Dr. André Singer of Spring Films and the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland

About our Guest: Dr. André Singer is an anthropologist by training and documentary film maker by trade. He is the President of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland; CEO and Creative Director of Spring Films Ltd; Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at the University of Southern California , as well as author and coauthor of several non-fiction books among them, Dissappearing world: television and anthropology (1988), Divine magic: the world of the supernatural (1995) and A history of anthropological thought (1981). Dr. Singer has been the director, researcher, producer, executive producer, commissioner and editor of many film and television documentaries since the 1970s.

Guest Interviewer: Aruna Panday

Overview: In this episode we discuss the overlap and dialogues between film as ethnography, as well as documentary and how this narrative form can be used to disseminate anthropological knowledge to a wider, public audience that has little or no anthropological training. In his work Singer deliberately targets non-anthropologist and non-academic audiences; as he expresses it during our conversation, "My purpose in the films I was making was specifically to make things for a non-anthropological audience. If it can be used by anthropologists, I'm delighted but that was not the primary target of my film making." One of his earliest works, Witchcraft Among the Azande (1982), based on E.E. Evans-Pritchard's 1937 ethnography Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic Among the Azande,  screened at CASCA in 2014 and is used as an entry into this discussion.

RH- Exploring Ethnographic and Documentary Film

Ethnography, documentary film, Evans Pritchard, Azande, anthropology, visual anthropology.

"But if you really want to make an impact with your own films, then I think you should not sneer at television. I think you should make use of television."

André Singer
Download PDF transcription - Exploring Ethnographic and Documentary Film
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Audio: Singer, André. "Exploring Ethnographic and Documentary Film." Interview by Aruna Panday. Radio Heteroglossia, audio, September 2016 [January 2015] http://www.academicperspectives.ca/en/interviews/2016-9-orig2015-1-andre-singer-spring-films-and-the-royal-anthropological-institute-of-great-britain-and-ireland-exploring-ethnographic-and-documentary-film.

Transcription: Singer, André. "Exploring Ethnographic and Documentary Film." Interview by Aruna Panday. Radio Heteroglossia, transcription, September 2016 [January 2015] http://www.academicperspectives.ca/en/interviews/2016-9-orig2015-1-andre-singer-spring-films-and-the-royal-anthropological-institute-of-great-britain-and-ireland-exploring-ethnographic-and-documentary-film.

* This interview was originally published in an extended version by Radio Heteroglossia on January 2015. The original interview has been shortened for this publication to fit our new, condensed format launched on September 2016.



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September 2023