Why do people pierce or tattoo their bodies in unusual places? What motivates a woman to enter the brutal, male-dominated world of boxing? Who are neo-paganists and how do they express their faith? These are just some of the questions explored in a series of ethnographic videos produced by anthropology students.They will be presented at a free screening Wednesday, May 21, 7 p.m., at the Pacific Film Archive.
The videos are the culmination of a semester of work by students enrolled in Anthropology 138B: Ethnographic Video Production, taught by Ilisa Barbash. According to Barbash, ethnographic videos are a way to chronicle a "lived experience." Ethnographic filmmakers select a "community," then participate in, observe and document that group in an attempt to understand its culture.
Body modification-the practice of piercing, tattooing and ornamenting the body (see photo at top, right) [note: for photos please see print edition] -is the subject of one of the works, which explores the lives of a group of employees of a San Francisco piercing studio. Despite their urban environment, the employees manipulate and ornament their own bodies to emulate tribal styles. The subjects describe the difficulty in getting jobs because of their appearance and the struggle to "maintain the integrity of their subculture in mass society."
With the televised match between woman boxers before the Tyson/Holyfield fight last year, female boxing finds itself at the brink of professional sports acceptance. In "Punching Through," the world of female boxing is viewed through the eyes of three Bay Area fighters. The film explores their passion for boxing, their relationships to male boxers and their take on social perceptions and media representation of female boxers.
The growing popularity of neo-paganism, a form of spirituality that acknowledges a mother goddess rather than a male supreme being, is documented in a student video that observes members of the Bay Area neo-pagan community. Group members explain how their spirituality "informs" their artistic talents and influences their daily lives and how their practice of "magic" rituals serves to make positive transformations in their consciousnesses.
The field of reproductive technology is expanding rapidly, offering women and their partners more options in their attempts to have children. This video takes an intimate look at how a group of participants- including a married couple, a single woman and a lesbian couple-cope with infertility, fertility treatments and their desire to have children.
The screening is funded by the Chancellor's Student Activities Fund. Additional technical support was provided by the Office of Media Services. For information call 642-3391.