A study of William Crocker’s photographic and film archive relating to the Canela Indians of Brazil

Iuvaro, Fabiola (2017) A study of William Crocker’s photographic and film archive relating to the Canela Indians of Brazil. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

This doctoral research studies the anthropology of Dr. William Crocker and his recording enterprise, the Festival of Masks of the Canela groups of Maranhão state, Brazil.

Crocker began field research with the Canela in 1957 and continued to do so intermittently until 2011. Photography and film played a major part in his observation and his use of these media proved extremely innovative in ethnographic study. Until now, these recordings have been largely unexamined and academically undervalued, and the footage about the group’s ceremonial life was almost unknown to anthropological and general audiences. The PhD is a detailed consideration of these important ethnographic data (footage, fields notes and photographs). This thesis is an analysis of his visual enterprise, discussing its relative neglect, the circumstances under which the images were taken, the ideas which informed them, and the general methods employed in making them. Later chapters use the visual materials to analyse the ethnographic content of the Festival of Masks ceremony.

The Festival of Masks is a complex ceremony that takes place over several days, in which the participants (or at least those who dance) disguise themselves with Masks. Begging, shame and compassion are the most important picture-like qualities of the Masks. The focus of my work traces Crocker’s process of recording ‘raw’ photographs and footage about bodily-mask expressions and movements, in order to demonstrate that these images can be used as data to reassess Canela personhood. The thesis, firstly follows Crocker’s attention on the Festival, then turns to how the Festival achieves the task of helping to construct personal ‘selves’ as part of a nexus of social relations. I argue that the ceremony presents an important way by which the Canela conceptualise the nature of being a human: the central importance of sharing in the formation of Canela personhood. The Festival of Masks can be seen as a model for how to live.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art History and World Art Studies
Depositing User: Gillian Aldus
Date Deposited: 01 Apr 2019 15:36
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2019 15:36
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/70425
DOI:

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