Ethnography is describing the Other. In the 1920s, writer and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston reacted to this established view with her own artistic and scholarly works on everyday cultures in her own home in America’s black south. Hurston political and poetic studies of “folk cultures” that were mostly disparaged at the time are an expression of unmitigated appreciation and a way of taking up a position within the debate on “high” and “low” art in Harlem between the wars.
My first viewing of Bruce Baillie’s Mass for the Dakota Sioux (1964) sent a shiver through my body and mind that ricochets to this very day.
I’m a graduate student in the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa. I’m enrolled in an essay film class this semester, and this week, I’m putting together a presentation on you and your film, States of Unbelonging.