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Comparative Case Studies on the Problem of the Creation and Transmission of Visual and Audio-Visual Anthropological Data Jonathan

Zilberg, Ph.D. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Introduction Though the creation of visual and audio-visual records as an integral part of the ethnographic experience does not pose any great practical, methodological, financial or theoretical problems, the deposition and archiving of the physical data, the creation of digital archives and the transmission and exhibition of that data does. By commenting upon two ethnographic projects in which I have systematically collected media archive materials as an integral part of the fieldwork process I briefly provide the background ethnographic contexts in which the data was collected and to what ends general and specific. Though the materials were collected in order to create a multi-sensory record of the issues and historical periods being studied in order to go beyond the limitations of ethnographic writing, the article concludes that in the end we remain bound to text. We are constrained by disciplinary practices and structures despite the efforts to more effectively incorporate visual and sonic ethnographic data. The materials were collected in order to illustrate debates occurring over moral crisis in two very different historical and cultural settings. Exhibiting such data, performing these archives and embedding them in or connecting them to hyper-e-text ethnographies would communicate something of the sound and image and flows of the media. As texts, ethnographies draw on visual, sonic and print or other media sources as illustrative or informative but they are necessarily reduced to text and only exist as illustrations or ancillary date available separately on records, CD-Roms, ethnographic film or video. Increasingly web pages have been used to better incorporate and provide the sensory dimension to anthropology collections, But in the end textual anthropological exegesis is still overwhelmingly primary, leaving aside ethnographic film. Frustrated by the absence of the sensory world, as unavoidable as that was in the past, this article suggests one possible solution. One could creatively make such archives available in a museum as an exhibition experiment. Doing this would provide a means for communicating the sensory dimensions of ethnographic experience and cultural history as experimented with ethnographic film and surrealist techniques. Discographies, CD-Roms and multi-media content rich web pages are useful additions to traditional text formats and museum exhibition displays. But the conjunction of open access distributed informatics, exhibition and performance of data as an art form in the museum or library, provides an opportunity for going far beyond the limitations of the text. In fact, this development has rapidly become termed archive fever. Nevertheless, even in the most recent ethnographic texts on media and music, we are still in the end firmly bound to the text itself rather than made physically conscious of the experience of the primary data. In that sense, our studies are necessarily diminished, in cases even impoverished. However one has to keep in mind that despite the potential, one could only create such multi-media open-access digital archives if one had sufficient institutional support and if it advanced rather than compromised ones career. Simply put,

without funding for such experimentation, without an institutional context for making the archive accessible and visible in the academic community and public through art galleries, museums and libraries, it is not possible to realize such projects. In this the constraints and challenges are professional and institutional rather than methodological, practical or theoretical. As David Goodstein (2010) describes it for science, the professional path and reward systems preclude such experimentation. However, if one is working in the rapidly growing new departments experimenting with combining the arts, sciences and technology or fortunate enough to already be a recognized figure such as Okwui Enzwezor, then the barriers to the exhibition of archives fall away as we will see this year in Paris with the exhibition of Surrealist materials from the Leiris collection. In spite of the power of such projects such as Enwezors The Short Century (2001) and the upcoming exhibition in Paris, the production of traditional academic text will continue to constitute the core of the professional reward and disciplinary status system. Thus the projects and practices proposed in this article are unlikely to ever establish themselves in anthropology as a realistic tactic for ethnographers. However, with the above-mentioned recent emergence of trans-disciplinary and even antidisciplinary programs combining the arts and sciences, media and engineering etc., it is possible that in those contexts, this notion and practice of an expanded multi-media exhibition and performance oriented sensory anthropology could find a place on the margins of the discipline as a form of avant-garde ethnographic practice. Comparative Case Studies Moral Panics in Zimbabwe (1990-1992) and Indonesia (2005-present) Though the two archives I envision concern very different social and historical contexts, they both focus on mass media and identity. In the African case, in Zimbabwe, the data focuses on generational shifts in modes of behavior, dress and music, namely the popularity of rap and hip hop alongside a continuing local passion for American country music dating back to the 1930s. There, a de-traditionalized Westernized political elite embarked on a campaign to radicalize society so as to promote an antagonistic relation to the West and promote tradition so as to bolster the states increasing lack of legitimacy. Thus the political context is one of an increasingly repressive state apparatus seeking to control both the media and the said corrupting influence of foreign imperialist culture. In the Asian case, I am equally interested in the role of the state and moralistic forces in society seeking to control and censor media towards affecting cultural change and instituting conservative political agendas. Here, accepted norms in Indonesia are rapidly shifting away from a formerly plural, open-minded, tolerant and relatively visually permissive society. Rather differently but with interesting parallels, in Indonesia, conservative Muslim forces including those directly connected to advancing the Saudi Wahabi and Salaafi agendas are forcing change away from a formerly dominant landscape of liberal Sufist and Western codes. In that context, conservative political forces and the state are working together to enforce a renewed sense of Islamic traditionalism Visual imagery and sound, accounts in print and other mass media can reveal these conflicted social dramas playing out at the level of the state and society all too clearly in ways that are less powerful when reduced to textual description and analysis.

The Zimbabwean archive, collected from 1990-1992, especially included information on identity and media. Broad spectrum media data was collected on order to create a time capsule of what people were reading in the media and listening to on the radio, what they were watching on the television and enjoying at the movies. Within that data, the sub-sample generated focused firstly with the history of the reception of and appreciation for American country music and secondly with a perceived pronounced identity crisis in youth culture at that time. That experience in Africa laid the foundation for the next experiment along the same lines but very differently. The vast scale of the production of mass media in Indonesia, and the freedom of political expression, stands out in powerful contrast to the limited and highly controlled Zimbabwean media. The focus in the case of the Indonesian archive under construction, collected from 2005 and ongoing, is concerned with an emerging dominant conservative national Islamic identity and the rise of sharia legislation to institute, enforce and expand the project. This data and the ethnographic project within which it is being collected is specifically concerned with changing laws, norms and cases which relate to the draconian new anti-pornography laws. It also is documenting fundamental shifts taking places in senses of propriety and piety, the rise of a moral majority and attendant hypocrisy, a new conservatism connected to the rise to power of political Islam. It also documents the growing climate of uncontrolled intolerance and relative impunity for violence and intimidation in the name of the dominant religion against minority groups. This second project is a more interesting one as though the study of African popular culture which deals with media and change has come of age (see Falola and Flemming 2012), Indonesian research is just beginning to move in that direction (Weintraub 2010). While the first project documented antagonisms expressed against the youth as the state moved into a period of consolidation of a radical anti-Western agenda, the second project is documenting the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. It focuses on the effect Salafi-ist pressure and political opportunism is having on previously normative practices relating to the expression of sexuality through the media. And though there are a great many studies of Indonesian Islam past and present, the fact that the topic of investigation is pornography and the variable definition and appreciation of what constitutes the pornographic makes this both an interesting and problematic data set. It requires comparative censorship of both imagery and text analysis not only in terms of collection but transmission - depending on the sensitivities of the audience. This adds ethical, theoretical and practical dimension to the issues of both creation and transmission of different types of archival data. Again, the comparative discussion of the states attempt to control youth culture and Americana in Zimbabwe and the states efforts to control pornography in Indonesia both occur in times of a rising agenda of cultural and political conservatism. The research started before the pornography debate and then began following the progress of the pornography bill and changes in Indonesian Islamic public spheres. Prior to this it focused on the issue of liberal Islam and the progressive issuing of fatwas which validated and stimulated pressure groups to commit acts of violence in the name of Islam. As the climate intensified, major media cases become key components of the more general data set on the rise of intolerance and religions violence. These were first the Playboy Indonesia case, then the Peter Porn case and most recently the Acehnese Punk case. They provide highly symbolic instances of some of the most notable discussions in society and media

of the times. They were major debates in the public sphere which signaled significant changes going on in society and the state. My interest is how to best convey this Asian and African data as a visual and sonic archive of societies undergoing change rather than merely presenting it as text based analysis. An Asian Case Study Indonesia has been my home for many years. I live here with an extended matrilineal Minangkabau family and conduct full time applied research on museums and other topics such as the rise of conservative Islam and the changes taking place in culture that can be observed and documented if one lives in another country and culture over the long term. Rather than describing and analyzing the data I have collected on rising intolerance, changing mores in Indonesia and this issue of moral crisis, my concern here (as with the Zimbabwean context below) is more general. I have been systematically collecting information from the mass media while not so much conducting ethnography as simply living and working with the Other as anthropologists like to term the natives these days. My life and work in different contexts and regions allows me sustained access to information and experiences that are not only basic to the anthropological experience but often privy to well-placed local insiders. Towards providing a brief picture of that I begin in the same way as I will further below for the Zimbabwean case. It is 2005. Every Saturday morning as I walk through the sitting room I pass by my mother and sister-in laws and cousins watching television, in those days a double showing of the weeks daily sitcom The Bold and The Beautiful rather more interesting than Carsons Law and Dallas as had been the fare in Zimbabwe. For the longest time, I paid no attention. It was rather below the threshold of how much popular culture I could bear to engage at the time. Usually, I would briefly pause on my way out with my coffee and exclaim emphatically haram, haram (forbidden) to the displays of sensuous affection and skimpy dress rather out of place even then when Indonesia was a very different place than it is today. But that day, a character called Ridge Forrester was acting in such a convincing way that it held my attention and forced me to watch the unfolding social drama. I was hooked and from then on, every Saturday morning from 9 to 12 am, I religiously watched The Bold and the Beautiful with my women relatives and yelling haram, haram whenever it got too much for my feigned radicalism. Though my wife, who also has a doctorate in anthropology, was disgusted at how I could watch such trash, and with such passion, there is no doubt that the experience allowed me to bond in a new and very positive way with my Indonesian Muslim family. And then one day, it happened, that moment when you realize as an anthropologist that something is in the air that you need to track. I was passing through the sitting room and the President was going absolutely mad on the television in a public speech. Now you must understand that for a Javanese elite, and the President no less, to lose control of ones temper, in public or otherwise is the height of unacceptable manners, the complete antithesis of a highly cultivated sense of propriety. What on earth was he so upset about? He had had enough. He did not want to see any more gyrating belly buttons on television. Inulmania was all the rage at the time, Inul being a very sexy popular dangdut singer dancer famous for her pelvic gyrations (Weintraub 2010, Zilberg 2006). The war had begun and as I was already following dangdut and the growing

problems with liberal Islam, I picked up my previous work on popular culture and my previous research agenda in Africa all over again (Zilberg 2012). Seven years later I am still collecting data and following the rise of religious intolerance against minority groups and moral outrage against liberalism in the sexual or sensual sphere which often plays out over public expressions of what is now deemed immoral which were formerly perfectly acceptable. One after another, major media events have played out over freedom of expression in a society rapidly become more and more conservative so much so that at one point a fatwa was issued against liberalism which was at that time and still today one of my research foci. Subsequently a huge debate ensued over the drafting and signing into law of the new anti-pornography legislation and the consequences it had thereafter for two particular cases especially central to my research, the demise of Inuls career, the launching and banning of Playboy Indonesia and the jailing of the editor. Bringing these related phenomenon together for anthropological analysis of the larger picture of cultural change in Indonesia is the motivation for this archival project. And then came the juiciest part of all, the sensational case of Peter Porn, the rock star Ariel who filmed himself having sex with his girlfriend Maya Luna and separately Cut Tari, two of the most famous and beautiful television celebrities of the time. Those exceptional Tantric films found their way onto the internet and immediately went viral landing Ariel in jail for almost three years now. In all this time sharia legislation has progressively been instituted across the archipelago in an era of decentralization nowhere to greater effect than in Aceh where the latest victims have been the Punks captured, imprisoned, shaved, bathed and re-educated. While my wife scoffs at the assertion, I swear that there was a connection because within the week after the President lost it on television over public displays of sexuality especially on television, The Bold and The Beautiful was no longer on the air and has never returned. Moreover, in my earlier analysis (2006) I was cautioned that any claims that Indonesia was fundamentally changing through this assault on popular culture and minority groups, that the argument was overblown liberal Western paranoia. However, events have consistently proven otherwise. But that is the topic of future analysis and is already the subject of a substantial literature. In the meantime, I take it that the reader can imagine the richness of the visual data and how compelling it could be compared to the above text based discussion as of yet un-expanded and un-theorized. An African Case Study At the start of my fieldwork in Zimbabwe on Shona stone sculpture, something happened which set the tone and task for all that followed. I was in Mutare, a city in the east of Zimbabwe, close to Mozambique. I was listening to the radio. The Beatles were singing We All Live in a Yellow Submarine. Then the announcer, a young woman with a decidedly Zimbabwean British accent came on the air and said: When I was a child we used to play this song on the record player and dance around and around the room singing We all live in a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine. I exclaimed to myself: where is this kind of detail in all the anthropology and history of Zimbabwe? Is it so trivial as to deserve no comment, so inconsequential as to not be

worthy of any note or analysis. Where is the everyday life of media in our ethnographies of Zimbabwe? This is how my anthropological study of mass media consumption in Zimbabwe began. My intention was to create a record of the flows of text based, spoken or sung information, visual imagery and sonic flows. What concerned me then as a graduate student was to use the opportunity of being there to create an archive base for future research. It had nothing to do with my research on Zimbabwean stone sculpture and yet everything. My purpose was to capture something of the multi-media rich environment anthropologists work in, which constitute our field experiences and yet by and large are absent from our final texts, certainly from perceptions people have of the Shona sculptors as tribal mystics carving their ancient culture in stone. Having been born and raised in Rhodesia, and returning there to do anthropological research on contemporary art a decade after the revolution, I was interested in the kinds of things we never read about in books. Most anyone who had lived or grown up there in the 1970s would remember that the number for Rixi Taxi was 606-606 and the sounds and sequences of the television advert for Archer, the insect killing product. Remember this: Aaaaarcheeer, the cockroaches sitting around the table getting gassed and falling over dead! Remember the jingle Tanganda, Tanganda Its Just Your Cup a Tea or the toilet paper jingle Wish the luxury you deserve! That was the sensory world we knew. Trivial as it might be, it is part of historical memory. But those sounds and images are iconic of the kind of data we usually ignore in ethnographic research. Perhaps they are of no significance. Perhaps they are. How do we deal with such absences and should we? How is it that there is such a great disjunction between how we perceive Zimbabwe through the novel or a film like Jit and how we perceive it through anthropological and historical texts? Its not that the texts arent very fine in their own individual ways, its just that they are so disembodied. But what else can they be? They are analytic texts, not films like Les Maitres Fous by Jean Rouche. So I ask: How can we take in the density and power of the likes of Terence Rangers historical work and add sufficient value to it through the equivalent density of sound and image to solve the scale of the problem facing anthropology and history? Cannot the by now emergent power of visual anthropology, the growing digitalization of archives, sonic anthropology and media anthropology, variously come together to provide the institutional and disciplinary contexts to go from such text to much greater context? 606-606. Aaaarcheerrrr. Sally Donaldson reading the Armed Service news - We regret to announce the death in action of . . . . Was it all so meaningless, so trivial, as to require no footnote in history, no record, no discussion nor theory? What about the macabre nightly news broadcasts visually recording of the armys or the terrorists killings of the day, the burnt villages and mutilated bodies, the swinging nets below helicopters with the days kill, those somber daily role calls of the named dead? What about Martin Locke, the Top Ten and how pathetic the single pop music show used to be on Saturday morning from 9 to 10 am? How about the difference between the color and style of the news broadcasters and the propaganda in the mass media before and after independence? Let us push the envelope a bit further where anthropology simply cannot go. Where will you ever see the dog eared opening image of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting

Corporation logo, the ZBC letters overlaying the revered national symbol of the Zimbabwean bird and that unsightly shoe print over it displayed on the nightly news for months on end that reduced so many people to laughter and dismayed disgust every time at the incompetence and lack of care in it all, symbolic of a larger national condition of continuous degradation all the while the state and the conservatives blamed the national condition on the childrens desire for hip hop and such. Where the tasteless way in which Sally Mugabes body was filmed upon its removal from the hospital death bed? Where will you ever hear the difference between the sound of elite African English and the other language styles reflective of class and regional difference that come across the airwaves day and night? Where is the record of the constant harangues, the shouting and fist shaking of the Great Leader himself with his iconic Hitler mustache? Where will there ever be any record of that jilted lover, a man swinging lonely from a tree in the bush at which so many men laughed in amazement that with so many fish in the sea a man could consider doing such a thing? Where would you learn that after the Iraq war, the speeding buses that kill so many passengers each year came to be known as scuds and how men took to barking at passing women all over Zimbabwe after the fake pornography charges in which a German man was accused of paying to film domestic workers in Highlands having sex with his german shepherd. Too tasteless? Since when was anthropology the domain of prudery except at conferences, in classes and in the journals and the books for the sake of professionalism and taste? So what is an anthropology which would create and transmit a record of the truly popular to do? What about the smell of the rain, the sounds of the night, the intense colors of the southern African winter bloom against the bright blue sky, the smell of burnt grass, all the things that stay inside your body and mind and soul even if you are not conscious of it. Where is all that? No doubt you say, but that is for poetry, for art and literature! The experimental moment in anthropology arrived for Zimbabwe with Timothy Burkes study of toiletries and advertising and consumption. That well and truly broke the whole damn thing open in my mind except that it was still a matter of text and a whole lot of theory, if fabulously productive at that (see Burke 2009, Burke 1995, Zilberg 2010). As today the study of African popular culture is a major field of study in its own right, perhaps this kind of information, the multi-media record of the minutae of everyday experience, can now become the subject of study or representation of life in Africa. Considering the elemental embodied importance of such trivial but all pervasive experience and common knowledge does it matter all this absence? Surely it does and surely anthropology is impoverished by it. Nevertheless, I think it safe to say that for the very most part you will never see or hear anything of this in the anthropology and history of Zimbabwe. Why? First, because it would not be politically correct. Second it would most certainly not earn you either a job or tenure even if you could get it published. Third, even if some aspect of this was recorded it would have to be abstracted and integrated into disciplinary form, to fit the professional criteria required so as to perpetuate the codes of conduct and knowledge production. There simply is no place for such trivia and certainly not as sound and image, still or moving, unless a singular image here and there in the center fold pages of our sacred university press texts no less on an accompanying CD-Rom. Guarded by systems of self-censorship internalized during training and towards that successful career, blocked

by peer review and hierarchical authority so as to vigilantly keep out whoever dares to threaten the hegemony of traditions established or emergent, one takes up the yoke and joins the choir as discordant as it is. To be blunt, is that not the case? Or do I exaggerate for the sake of effect considering that in the creation and transmission of archives this kind of data would have to be deleted if you wanted to align the materials with Zimbabwean ethnography and history as we know it? Towards the future when it might be possible to do such things, I have left in the Communications Library at the University of Northern Kentucky an archive of detailed samplings of newspapers, magazines, radio and television programs and listings that was collected between August 1990 and April 1992. To be specific it contains a one year sample of The Zimbabwe Herald and The Financial Gazette, not of the entire papers but the front pages, the entertainment pages and other select pages which struck me of special interest on any particular day. It includes a two year sample of popular monthly magazines namely, Parade, Prize Beat, Mahogany, Moto, Look and Listen, Read On, Just For Me, Every Home, Speak Out, Step, Social Change and Development, Southern African Economist, Sky Host and African Calls. There are also tape recordings of radio, short and longer scans back and forth across the airwaves as well as a few limited television samples of adverts, news and select programs. It was made available for students to conduct original research on global popular culture many years ago to no avail. Perhaps one day it might serve such a purpose though I would far rather see it performed in a museum. Conclusion I always mean to order the video that accompanies Clinton Walkers book on Aboriginal country music Buried Country but I never seem to be able to get around to it. Likewise I always mean to go on-line and listen to the music and video illustrating particular performance and songs discussed in Andrew Wientraubs Dangdut Stories but never have. Whenever I look over at Dale Olsens Music in Vietnam on my bookshelf and recall the powerful photographs in there of the women singers I can hardly contain myself from hoping on the next plane to Saigon to see and hear and feel it all for myself. But in the end, where do I find myself but sitting at my desk with the text in hand, immersed in the solitary and reflective process of reading. In the end then, is anthropology not firmly bound to text unless you are teaching such books in the classroom and effectively using the ancillary materials to communicate the experience in its sonic and visual sensory richness. In that context, those classes perform the archives and the students viscerally experience the field data. So what need is there for an exhibition of archives in a museum which would record the flow of data in the mass media relating to moral panics in Zimbabwe and Indonesia? It has to do with anthropology reaching the larger audience to which it is relevant. In Zimbabwe, between 1990 and 1992, because of the scale of the national media, it was a relatively simple matter to build a representative sample of the media and particular topics under investigation. In Indonesia, because of the scale, and the global and technological shifts that have taken place since then, the focus has been on following particular arenas of cultural conflict over time. In both cases the point has been to create a historical record of the kind of visual and audio data that anthropologists had too often

ignored prior to the 1980s. And once again, gathering such data presents no difficulty. But transmitting it, not as text based analysis, but in terms of sound and image, certainly does. The crux of the problem is that our text based academic culture makes it very difficult to transmit the data itself. Such data, if it is even collected and archived, becomes mere illustration rather than an accessible record of the essential multi-media experience that constitutes anthropological fieldwork. In short then, this paper has thus been concerned to note that the problems of the multi-dimensional transmission of visual and aural sources are not technical but institutional and historical. The institutional and disciplinary parameters and the structure of the professional reward system necessarily limits the creation and transmission of sound and image based field archives in its emphasis not only on text rather than image and sound based knowledge but as importantly on what is appropriate ethnographic data illustrative of the Other. Considering these limitations what we need, I feel, is the exhibition of such data, its performance and its onward transmission in radio, film and digital media. To do that one would probably have to do it as an avant-garde anthropological art form in and of and for its own sake if one could find the context. To conclude, all this is a natural consequence of the professional reward structure and the expectations of academia. It is not a theoretical dilemma. Nor is it a practical one. It is due to the logo-centric legacy of Western scholarship and the institutional nature and history of academia and museums in general. There is no reason to expect significant change except in rare cases. Take for instance this article. It merely recapitulates the essential problem by simply writing about the problem rather than illustrating it through visual and sonic means. Yet the point remains simple enough that the creation of multimedia and media based archives as critical components of anthropological research and representation in exhibition, performance, dissemination though open access archives offers communicative depth to the study of the ethnographic and historical imagination (Comaroff and Comaroff 1992). There, outside of ethnographic film, it is the performance and exhibition of media based archives that provide the most far reaching and effective solution for transmitting the visual and aural data behind the text. The problem is simply how to find a mode and context for transmission which does not reduce the data to mere illustration.


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