Global Challenges

The challenge of representation: Ethnography as a basis for fictional film

Synnøve Bendixsen and Kari Hagatun: How can dissemination from ethnographic studies become more available and popular to wider audiences?

Woman in an empty birthday party room looking out the window at kids playing football
Savas Boyraz

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In her talk, Synnøve Bendixsen will discuss how ethnographic studies can reach an audience through the medium of ethnographic fictional film. She will draw on the experience of coproducing with Hilde Danielsen (NORCE) the ethnographic-based fictional short film Birthday Parents (2018), directed by Savas Boyraz. The talk will reflect on the process of transforming findings from an ethnographic study on parenting in multicultural Norway. The topic of the celebration of birthdays was chosen for the film because it was a phenomenon which parents and professionals brought up repeatedly in various ways at different settings during their fieldwork. 

What happens with representation in the process of turning ethnographic experiences and insights into an ethnographic fictional film? Ethnographic filmmaking and visual anthropology have a long history in social anthropology and ethnology. Simultaneously, ethnography is intertwined with political dimensions, and ethnographers enter a field already filled with power relations. What are the ethical and political considerations when transforming ethnography to film?

Exploring some of the same questions, Kari Hagatun will share some of the possibilities and challenges she experienced when using art photography in dissemination of ethnographic research. Drawing on the experiences in her Ph.d. on the educational situation for Roma children in Norway, she asks: How can we mediate such powerful tools in ways that do not amplify existing stereotypes in the public, when we strive for the opposite?

The seminar is onsite only and will not be streamed. You find us in Jekteviksbakken 31.