With or without the camera running: the work of Inuit film‐making

Nancy Wachowich* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This article argues for the critical evaluation of indigenous media, art, and aesthetic practices within local trajectories of meaning-making. Drawing on ethnographic research in Arctic Canada with a notable Inuit video and film production company, Igloolik Isuma Productions, I emphasize the value of focusing on locally defined processes of filmic production and on relational bounties accrued outside the camera’s field of vision. Indigenous media-making emerges as a collaborative, adaptive, intercultural, and improvisational practice, one akin to Inuit traditions of hunting, carving, garment-sewing, tool-making, and storytelling, and celebrated for its ability to foster unique environmental relationships, material practices, and perceptual orientations. Exploring the compound and relational workings of indigenous media invites critical reconsideration of the generative potentials it holds for the practitioner-inhabitants of indigenous communities, anthropologists, and mainstream audiences more broadly.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-125
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Volume26
Issue number1
Early online date14 Jan 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Jan 2020

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film production
Arctic
inhabitant
aesthetics
video
Canada
art
ability
evaluation
community
Filmmaking
Film Production
Generative
Storytelling
Meaning Making
Aesthetics
Evaluation
Trajectory
Ethnographic Research
Igloolik Isuma Productions

Keywords

  • AESTHETICS

Cite this

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abstract = "This article argues for the critical evaluation of indigenous media, art, and aesthetic practices within local trajectories of meaning-making. Drawing on ethnographic research in Arctic Canada with a notable Inuit video and film production company, Igloolik Isuma Productions, I emphasize the value of focusing on locally defined processes of filmic production and on relational bounties accrued outside the camera’s field of vision. Indigenous media-making emerges as a collaborative, adaptive, intercultural, and improvisational practice, one akin to Inuit traditions of hunting, carving, garment-sewing, tool-making, and storytelling, and celebrated for its ability to foster unique environmental relationships, material practices, and perceptual orientations. Exploring the compound and relational workings of indigenous media invites critical reconsideration of the generative potentials it holds for the practitioner-inhabitants of indigenous communities, anthropologists, and mainstream audiences more broadly.",
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note = "Funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Doctoral fellowships scheme, The Carnegie Trust, The British Academy, and Isuma Productions made this research possible. Many thanks to Norman Cohn, Julie Cruikshank, Tim Ingold, and Katarina Soukoup who offered comments on early versions of this work, to the anonymous reviewers for their sound editorial advice, and to Paul Apak, Norman Cohn, Marie-H{\'e}l{\`e}ne Cousineau, Carol Kunnuk, Jayson Kunnuk, Zacharias Kunuk, Pauloosie Qulitalik, Lucy Tulugarjuk and other Isuma/Arnait producers and staff who generously welcomed me in their offices, studios, sets and on tour through the years.",
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