Grounded Dreams?

Hong Kong and Hollywood face the challenges of a globalizing movie economy. Hortense Powdermaker’s analysis of a Hollywood movie industry driven by extreme uncertainty, anxiety, and crisis in Hollywood, the Dream Factory (1950), remains just as relevant to today’s industry marked by increasing post-Fordist production and globalization. The offshoring of production jobs from the dream […]

Watching Movies in Ghana

Re-presenting the stuff of dreams and invisible forces, films feed the popular imagination. “It’s true, it’s true. All these things happen, all these things happen in real life. In reality,” Paulina, a fan of Ghanaian movies, told me at the beginning of my research on Ghana’s emergent local film industry in the fall of 1996. […]

The Accidental Celebrity

Achieving media stardom takes more than luck. It requires hard work and perseverance. City of stars Are you shining just for me? City of stars You never shined so brightly —Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, “City of Stars,” from the film La La Land (2016) Being a celebrity is hard work. This observation […]

Film for Good

Can cinema produce social justice? Six decades separate the #OscarsSoWhite movement and the publication of Hortense Powdermaker’s ethnography on Hollywood’s inner workings Hollywood, the Dream Factory: An Anthropologist Looks at the Movie-Makers (1950). Yet Powdermaker’s analysis presents a clear diagnosis of the structures the contemporary movement struggles against. Powdermaker writes about the power of the […]

Immigrant Journeys to Higher Education

 Immigrant parents are the original DREAMers. The research considers us successful because we made it to college. I think we wouldn’t be here without our parents. That’s just the bottom line. Our parents had so much personal drive and so much dedication to bring us to where we are now that there’s no way that […]

Introduction to “Ethnographer as Activist”

Grappling with ethnography and advocacy in the field. What follows is a transcribed conversation between the authors. It has been edited for length and clarity. Haley Bryant: When we began this discussion it took the form of a conference panel designed to work through some of the challenges associated with bridging the gap between ethnography […]

Engagements with Ethnographic Care

On care and self-care as an anthropologist and rape crisis advocate. I came to my work with survivors of sexual violence, initially, out of care. Care about the individuals who endure the physical, psychic, and social wounds of sexual violence and its attendant traumas, and a desire to provide care for individuals who identify as […]

On Not Being Seen

Visibility in the field can be fraught with methodological and ethical dilemmas. “Go ahead inside. I need to get a few things from the trunk,” I told Destiny as I dropped her off outside the recreation center on a cold, March night last year. She understood the subtext: we shouldn’t be seen coming in together. […]

A Nuclear Advocacy Dilemma

Advocacy anthropology does not always mean aligning oneself with an underdog. Since the establishment of our discipline, anthropologists have fretted over the question of whether they should deploy their own privileged knowledge to intervene in debates and disputes among their subjects. Should they dispassionately take notes on female genital mutilation, or should they advocate against […]

Writing and Research in a Conflict Zone

For the activist-scholar research can mean navigating between different audiences, modes, and ethics of representation. When the Kony 2012 video went viral, it sparked numerous conversations about Western activism and Africa. The video focused on the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group that started in northern Uganda, and the US-led social movement to end […]