Current Institutional Affiliation
Documentary Filmmaker

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2014
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Film Studies, New York University (NYU)
Transnational Practices and Cultural Legacies of the Ateliers Varan Documentary Training School: Media Activism in Mozambique and Brazil

This dissertation explores the transnational practices and cultural legacies of the Ateliers Varan documentary training school, a dynamic field of cultural production (Bourdieu 1993) bridging anthropology and media activism since its foundation in 1981. My focus is on the workshops it has carried out in Mozambique- the first to be established in 1978- and Brazil, where workshops were held in the 1980s and where, 30 years later, a new workshop is being developed for 2014, offering an opportunity for ethnographic observation. Conceived by the groundbreaking anthropologist and filmmaker Jean Rouch, the Ateliers Varan has trained over one thousand novice filmmakers in twenty-three countries, creating a transnational circuit of influential ethnographic and activist filmmakers without formal academic training. My research focuses on an aspect of Jean Rouch's influence that has been largely overlooked by scholars in anthropology and cinema studies alike: his pedagogical legacy. By examining the specific cases of workshops held in Mozambique and in Brazil, from the 1980s to the present, my study is designed to understand how teachers and students have adapted and indigenized Jean Rouch's training methodologies in ways that are culturally relevant to their particular national locations, becoming part of local audiovisual and cultural legacies. This work builds on the robust new field of ethnography of media, by examining a particular part of the "Lusophone media world" using ethnographic methods in order to understand how people are engaged in these methods of self-representation (Ginsburg, AbuLughod, Larkin 2002). It will also expand the framework of scholarship in the field of ethnographic film, which has not paid sufficient attention to work outside the Anglophone and Francophone traditions. Finally, this dissertation will contribute to our understanding of a transnational Lusophone arena of cultural production in two key post-colonial locations: Mozambique and Brazil.