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APPROPRIATING IMAGES (article first published : 1999-06-21)

Appropriating images the semiotics of visual representation, a 1996 publication by Professor Keyan G Tomaselli of the Graduate Programme in Cultural and Media Studies, University of Natal, Durban, has been re-published by Aarhus: Intervention Press.

Appropriating Images is a notable achievement for two main reasons,” says Professor David Turton, Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology, University of Manchester. “Firstly, by using a single interpretive paradigm - derived from semiotics - to discuss a wide variety of documentary films - Keyan Tomaselli has been able to give an integrated and coherent account of some of the issues which have most bedeviled the discussion of film by visual anthropologists, such as the relationship between the written and filmed ethnography, objectivity and reflectivity and the unequal power relation between film-makers and subjects.

Appropriating Images is informed throughout by an explicit concern with the political context within which anthropologists and ethnographic film-makers do their work,” Professor Turton continued. “This is where Tomaselli's long personal engagement against apartheid has been a huge advantage to him: It enables him to ask the kind of questions - awkward and deeply disconcerting - which can be all too easily brushed aside by film-makers and academics who have not had to face up to the same choices and dilemmas in their professional and everyday lives. The result is a book which will not only serve as a lively and provocative introduction for students but which also goes far beyond the dispensing of anecdotal wisdom, the excessive preoccupation with production strategies and the self-absorbed recounting of personal histories.”

Subjects range from a first brief History of Ethnographic Film Making : the pioneers to the final Towards Ethical Film Making and Crew-Subject Interactions and should provide much food for thought for those interested in the film industry.

For more details, contact Professor Keyan Tomaselli at the Graduate Programme in Cultural and Media Studies, University of Natal, Durban 4041. Phone +27-31-260-2505, Fax:+27-31-260-1519. e-mail: tomaselli@mtb.und.ac.za, website: http://www.und.ac.za/und/ccms/


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