Creative Cross-Cultural Collaboration: Forging a New Path for Ethnographic Film in Aotearoa New Zealand
This thesis envisions a new path for ethnographic cinema. While revisionist works challenge a colonial study that has invaded, marginalized, and catalogued the researched Other, my research recognizes film as a collaborative tool to facilitate cross-cultural dialogue. This thesis, in both practical and theoretical methods, interrogates the controversial history of visual ethnography in an effort to create more nuanced media that redefines the ethnographic objective outside of colonial and revisionist frameworks. The practical component of my thesis is a documentary production that profiles the works of four Māori artists who specialize in writing, carving, and acting. By applying staged artistic performances and Māori cultural practices into a documentary narrative, the film renders an artistic alternative for ethnography that dissolves the traditionally demarcated roles between the researcher and researched. This component of my thesis foregrounds ethnographic film as a medium to foster greater self-representation for Māori men and women who still seek greater media sovereignty in Aotearoa New Zealand. A subsequent written analysis and reflection of the film identifies key aesthetic and narrative elements that locates my film in a unique, culturally mediated space between Māori and Pakeha. First, I discuss the significance of a powhiri as a method to reveal and weaken the positional power of the filmmaker. Next, I examine how staged performance reevaluates ethnographic authenticity. Third, I discuss film’s potential to carry out Kaupapa Māori research. Together, these characteristics call for a new collaborative approach to ethnographic film that democratizes the ethnographic narrative and production process.
Advisor: Thornley, Davinia
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Media, Film, & Communication
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: ethnographic; cross-cultural; media; documentary; maori
Research Type: Thesis