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Editorial

Frode Storaas and Trond Waage


JAF and Open Access

cOAlition S is an initiative by 13 national research funding organisations, aiming at full and immediate Open Access to research publications. By 2020 scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants provided by participating national and European research councils and funding bodies, must be published in compliant Open Access Journals or on compliant Open Access Platforms. (scienceeurope.org)

The statement has caused debate. The economics involved in running a journal — who should pay, is one major question, other concerns relate to maintaining the scientific quality of prestigious journals. Open Access can be a challenge for some filmmakers due to commercial interests, others due to the agreement they have with other interested parties, e.g. protagonists in a film.

JAF publishes films that are based on research, and in most cases the research has been funded by public grants. Thus, JAF will follow the ideas behind cOAlition S.

The national research funding organisations behind cOAlition S have agreed on 10 principles, one being the obvious: Authors retain copyright of their publication with no restrictions. All publications must be published under an open license, preferably the Creative Commons Attribution Licence CC BY. In all cases, the license applied should fulfil the requirements defined by the Berlin Declaration. Another of the principles are: Where applicable, Open Access publication fees are covered by the Funders or universities, not by individual researchers; it is acknowledged that all scientists should be able to publish their work Open Access even if their institutions have limited means.

JAF will not charge for films submitted to the journal.
JAF will be an Open Access platform for films based on anthropological research, that can be watched and be made available for debates and teaching all over the world.
After all, filmmakers make their films hoping they will be watched.


This issue

The possibility of getting films published in peer-reviewed academic journals is new, but the history of anthropological filmmaking is long. JAF will first of all publish recent anthropological films, however, we will also accept submission of older films, because we know there are many ‘pearls’ out there, who deserve a better destiny than a few public screenings. So please send us your films that you think deserves a new opportunity. This issue of JAF includes interesting films from South America, Africa, Europe and Oceania.

Chea’s Great Kuarao by Rolf Scott, Edvard Hviding and Trygve Tollefsen is about the kuarao, a form of communal fishery in the Chea village, located in the Marovo Lagoon of the Solomon Islands. The material was recorded in 1996 and the film made available in 2000. The film addresses the process of preparing and conducting the kuarao. Observational shots of the events are contextualised by interviews and a voice-over narrated by Edvard Hviding, an anthropologist with extensive fieldworks in this community. The kuarao is an ongoing communal practice with deep roots in ancient ways of fishing that also serves as a confirmation of ancestral rights to the reefs. A common theme for anthropologists studying issues such as land rights, has been how, and to what extent, local populations by themselves are able to take care of renewable common property resources in sustainable ways. The anthropologist has a prominent role in the film through interviews with the locals, and as the provider of contextualisation and analysis of the kuarao. Thus, the film also gets to see glimpses of the anthropologist at work.

Entre memorias by Martha-Cecilia Dietrich addresses the question of how we can remember conflict and war, and how we can create reconciliation across different strands of memory. By dwelling on what can be termed memory work, the film delves into the wishes and attempts to remember by persons differently affected by the armed conflict between Peru’s guerilla movements (Shining Path and the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, MRTA) and military forces from the 1980s to 2000. The conflict has resulted in the death and disappearance of 70.000 Peruvians, and caused the flight of more than 600.000 people from the rural Andes to the cities. This conflict to a great extent paved the way for the authoritarian regime of Alberto Fujimori (1990–2000). The film was made twelve years after the finalisation of the work of the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2003, and raises further, more general questions about memory, and considers especially the elusiveness of memory. How can the violence and terror of this period be remembered, and what are the mechanisms through which memories are legitimised? What are the means by which we remember, and how can memories be respected when various perspectives and experiences of a conflict co-exist? What is truth when trying to remember? The film experiments with the question of memory by switching between different persons’ memories of the conflict, thus seeking to stage a dialogue between memories. In rural Ayacucho, the film follows the filmmaker’s own grandmother in remembering her husband who was killed during the violence, and how she connects him to a particular place in the absence of his physical remains. It follows a political prisoner and previous guerilla leader in her dealings with the past and thoughts about the future; the struggles of people in a shantytown to establish a sanctuary and monument for victims of the war whose bodies were found there; a military general’s reflections about exact knowledge of events and the difficulty of recognising the memories of others; as well as the military forces’ attempt to honour the effort and sacrifice of the fighting soldiers. In particular, the film raises interesting issues concerning the multiplicities and (im)materiality of remembering; about how to remember the deceased when their remains have not been found; negotiations over respect for the spatial boundaries of a sanctuary site; the use of words and writing to open up memory for reflection and dialogue; and the dramatisation of a conflict-period and hostages, staged for memory — and perhaps attraction. By vividly illustrating these different practices of remembering, the film addresses various questions of centrality for social anthropology, regarding the politics of memory, and questions of subjectivity, identity and nation in a post-conflict context.

La Ausencia by Ricardo Greene is a film about memory. The film is an empathic, poetic and somehow tender representation of a reality, communicating the social inequality between family members and their domestic worker. The film is short, 12 min. only, still covering the life of a family through a generation. Visually the film is not what we generally see in anthropological films. However, the visual story is constructed on the audio narrated by the protagonist, a story which corresponds elegantly with the artistic visual presentation of the film. The voice belongs to a female domestic worker in Santiago, Chile, as she goes through the photos of a family, kept in albums and on the walls in their home. Glimpses of the lives of the members of the family are revealed, mostly ordinary themes, but ‘something’ is missing. Domestic workers are often talked about as members of the family with whom they spend so much time and they do have a central position in the homes. In the case of this film the narrator has been with the family for many years and obviously a ‘member’ of the family, but still absent from the ‘displayed’ memory of the family. To quote the filmmaker: This micro-expedition raises questions regarding the limits of memory, the sense of place, the uses of photography, and the fussiness of kinship, through which it finally conveys the concealed and blurred situation in which domestic workers are usually immersed in Latin America. We should add; not only in Latin America.

Domestic workers have not been a concern of much anthropological research. Thus, this powerful story about a specific kind of life is a rare film, but important contribution to anthropological knowledge.

Let’s build a Waterfall! by Trond Waage and Aniken Førde is a film about Bleik, a village isolated by the mountains and sea on Andøya, an island in Norther Norway. The theme of the film deals with the struggle of the community to survive and to maintain its identity as a particular community with services to its population. The film follows several projects, actually success stories, starting with the school, a golf course and a café to celebrations and events, which seem to be so essential to the spirit of the village. The name of the film refers directly to this theme of the film; when the villagers back in 1904 wanted electricity, they needed a waterfall for the power station and built it. When the film ends, the villagers are once again mobilizing, now for its fishing industry and quay. The filmmakers succeed in approaching the people in a friendly way. Their relationship seems to be very open and warm. This has a direct positive effect on the atmosphere of the film. The method, common to anthropology, anthropological film and documentary filmmaking, building trust and honest relationship between the filmmakers and the main characters, works and generates here joyful but also revealing scenes. It is very obvious, that the filmmakers have spent a long time in the community. The audience gets the necessary information needed to understand the storyline, but also a wider view to understand something about small communities and human behaviour in general. So, the film includes specific knowledge about this special community and experiences and emotions of the members of the community, but it has also more general level of understanding.

(Trond Waage, who is also a co-editor of JAF, has not been involved in the review process of this film.)

Maputo: Ethnography of a Divided City by Joao Graca and Fábio Ribeiro is a film based on the research project The Ethnography of a Divided City. Socio-Politics, Poverty and Gender in Maputo, Mozambique headed by the anthropologist Inge Tvedten at the Chr. Michelsen Institute, Norway. The filmmakers have been given full artistic freedom in their filmatic approach. The film thus departs from how anthropological films generally are constructed and told. The methods are not what are commonly used for a long-standing ethnographic enquiry. Filmic devices as slow-motion and speed-motion are frequently used, beautiful scenes of interaction are mostly covered by ad hoc music and lack of synchronous sound. The film contains several interesting and unique stories through which the film tries to ‘paint’ a huge fresco of this amazing city. The film is made with a deep love for the people and the city, the history and the multiculturalism of Africa.

The editors want to thank the anonymous reviewers whose reports have been partly quoted in this editorial.

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