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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Institut für Europäische Ethnologie

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Institut für Europäische Ethnologie | Termine | Vernacular Creativity: On the Familiar and the Familial in Tibetan Student Films

Vernacular Creativity: On the Familiar and the Familial in Tibetan Student Films

Wann 19.05.2021 von 16:15 bis 17:45 (Europe/Berlin / UTC200) iCal
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The Centre for Anthropological Research on Museums and Heritage warmly invites you to our next Museum Lab session on 19 May.

We are grateful to be able to welcome Jenny Chio, Associate Professor of East Asian Languages & Cultures and Anthropology, University of Southern California.

Jenny will talk about Vernacular Creativity: On the Familiar and the Familial in Tibetan Student Films.

The session will be moderated by Magda Buchczyk, Junior Professor of Social Anthropology, IfEE/CARMAH.

In autumn 2015, the Jigme Gyaltsen Tibetan Vocational School in Qinghai, China, inaugurated its first class in filmmaking. Funded by a Beijing-based philanthropy and organized by a Kunming-based NGO (From Our Eyes), twenty-three Tibetan students, ranging in age from the mid-teens to late twenties, set out to learn the basics of digital video production over the course of three years. The goal of the class was ambitious: to teach, encourage, and train a new generation of Tibetan filmmakers, following the footsteps of widely acclaimed Tibetan filmmaker and author Pema Tseden. Most of the films produced by these students were documentary in approach and aesthetic as a result of logistical, and I argue, ideological factors. In this talk, I discuss the interplay between genre (documentary) and content (the “everyday”) that marks both the distinctiveness and, arguably, the disappointments of this film training project. The expectation that these Tibetan students would participate in documenting “from their eyes” their everyday, vernacular lives both reinforces dominant ideologies of creativity as the practice and purview of mainstream urbanites rather than rural minorities, but also offers a potential opening to understanding how the familiar and the familial can serve as spaces for creativity. Thus, I analyze how under the guise of documentation and cultural heritage preservation, these Tibetan student documentary films push for a reconsideration of creativity as arising out of vernacular everyday lived experience and extend the possibilities of self-imagination and social collectivity for contemporary young Tibetans in China today.

Jenny Chio is Associate Professor of East Asian Languages & Cultures and Anthropology at the University of Southern California (USA). Trained in cultural anthropology and ethnographic filmmaking, her scholarship focuses on media ethnography, critical tourism studies, and comparative race and ethnic studies. She conducts research on the cultural politics of ethnic minority identity, rural social transformation, and vernacular media practices in the People’s Republic of China.