|Born||July 16, 1932|
Southampton, New York
|Died||October 3, 1994 62) (aged|
Los Angeles, California
|Occupation||Professor, USC Center for Visual Anthropology|
|Notable works||The Ax Fight|
|Part of a series on the|
| Anthropology of art,|
media, music, dance
|Social and cultural anthropology|
Timothy Asch (July 16, 1932 – October 3, 1994) was an American anthropologist, photographer, and ethnographic filmmaker. Along with John Marshall and Robert Gardner, Asch played an important role in the development of visual anthropology. He is particularly known for his film The Ax Fight and his role with the USC Center for Visual Anthropology.
Asch was born in Southampton, New York and attended The Putney School. He studied at Columbia University, where he received his B.S. in anthropology in 1959. While at Columbia, he served as a teaching assistant for Margaret Mead, who encouraged his work in visual anthropology.From 1950 to 1951, he served apprenticeships with Minor White, Edward Weston and Ansel Adams through the San Francisco Art Institute (formerly known as the California School of Fine Arts). He received his M.A. in African Studies from Boston University (with an anthropology concentration at Harvard University) in 1964.
Asch was known for his work as an ethnographic filmmaker on the Yanomami in conjunction with Napoleon Chagnon. He also worked in Indonesia with anthropologists Linda Connor, James J. Fox and E. Douglas Lewis.
In 1968, Asch and John Marshall co-founded Documentary Educational Resources (DER), a non-profit organization whose mission is to support, produce, and distribute ethnographic, non-fiction, and documentary films. Asch's film work continues to be distributed through DER.
Asch taught at New York University, Brandeis University, and Harvard University, and was a Research Fellow at the Australian National University prior to joining the University of Southern California (USC) in 1982. He became the Director of the Center for Visual Anthropology after the death of founder Barbara Myerhoff. During his period at USC, he was involved with the Margaret Mead Film Festival.
Asch acted as Director of the Center for Visual Anthropology up until his death from cancer on October 3, 1994. The Spring 1995 issue of Visual Anthropology Review (Vol. 11, No.1) was dedicated to Asch. [ permanent dead link ]
Asch was a prolific filmmaker with an extensive list of more than 70 films to his credit.Over 40 of these are short films on the Yanomami in collaboration with Napoleon Chagnon.
Asch made most of his films for educational classroom use. He often showed his films to students and edited them based on student feedback. In one semester, Asch edited The Ax Fight up to twenty five times to make it more understandable and ideal for teaching. He was also a proponent of using film as a research and archive tool.
Asch married Patricia Wood. Together they acted as partners with other anthropologists in Afghanistan and Indonesia to produce films widely used in education and research. They had four children: two daughters, Caya and Kim (who was adopted from South Korea) and sons Gregory (also known as DJ Olive) and Alexander.
Darkness in El Dorado: How Scientists and Journalists Devastated the Amazon is a polemical book written by author Patrick Tierney in 2000, in which the author accuses geneticist James Neel and anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon of conducting human research without regard for their subjects' well-being while conducting long-term ethnographic field work among the indigenous Yanomamo, in the Amazon basin between Venezuela and Brazil. He also wrote that the researchers had exacerbated a measles epidemic among the Native Americans, and that Jacques Lizot and Kenneth Good committed acts of sexual impropriety with Yanomamo.
Napoleon Alphonseau Chagnon was an American cultural anthropologist, professor of sociocultural anthropology at the University of Missouri in Columbia and member of the National Academy of Sciences. Chagnon was known for his long-term ethnographic field work among the Yanomamö, a society of indigenous tribal Amazonians, in which he used an evolutionary approach to understand social behavior in terms of genetic relatedness. His work centered on the analysis of violence among tribal peoples, and, using socio-biological analyses, he advanced the argument that violence among the Yanomami is fueled by an evolutionary process in which successful warriors have more offspring. His 1967 ethnography Yanomamö: The Fierce People became a bestseller and is frequently assigned in introductory anthropology courses.
Visual anthropology is a subfield of social anthropology that is concerned, in part, with the study and production of ethnographic photography, film and, since the mid-1990s, new media. More recently it has been used by historians of science and visual culture. Although sometimes wrongly conflated with ethnographic film, visual anthropology encompasses much more, including the anthropological study of all visual representations such as dance and other kinds of performance, museums and archiving, all visual arts, and the production and reception of mass media. Histories and analyses of representations from many cultures are part of visual anthropology: research topics include sandpaintings, tattoos, sculptures and reliefs, cave paintings, scrimshaw, jewelry, hieroglyphics, paintings and photographs. Also within the province of the subfield are studies of human vision, properties of media, the relationship of visual form and function, and applied, collaborative uses of visual representations.
The USC Center for Visual Anthropology (CVA) is a center located at the University of Southern California. It is dedicated to the field of visual anthropology, incorporating visual modes of expression in the academic discipline of anthropology. It does so in conjunction with faculty in the anthropology department through five types of activities: training, research and analysis of visual culture, production of visual projects, archiving and collecting, and the sponsorship of conferences and film festivals. It offers a B.A. and an MVA in Visual Anthropology.
The Human Studies Film Archives (HSFA) is a sister archive to the National Anthropological Archives within the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. HSFA preserves and provides access to ethnographic films and anthropological moving image materials. It is located at the Smithsonian Museum Support Center in Suitland, Maryland.
The Margaret Mead Film Festival is an annual film festival held at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. It is the longest-running, premiere showcase for international documentaries in the United States, encompassing a broad spectrum of work, from indigenous community media to experimental nonfiction. The Festival is distinguished by its outstanding selection of titles, which tackle diverse and challenging subjects, representing a range of issues and perspectives, and by the forums for discussion with filmmakers and speakers.
The Ax Fight (1975) is an ethnographic film by anthropologist and filmmaker Tim Asch and anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon about a conflict in a Yanomami village called Mishimishimabowei-teri, in southern Venezuela. It is best known as an iconic and idiosyncratic ethnographic film about the Yanomamo and is frequently shown in classroom settings.
A Man Called "Bee": Studying the Yanomamo is a 1974 film by ethnographic filmmakers Tim Asch and Napoleon Chagnon. While he was studying the Yanomamo people, Napoleon Chagnon used many different ethnographic research methods. Some of those methods included participant observation, key informants, tape recording and in depth interviews. Ethnography is based on fieldwork. In order for Chagnon to create this film about the Yanomamo people, he had to take part in their events he was observing, describing, and analyzing.
Lina Fruzzetti is an American cultural anthropologist and documentary filmmaker. Since 1975, she has been a professor of anthropology at Brown University in the United States. Apart from having published ethnographic studies about rural communities and gender relations in East Africa, India and Tanzania, she is the author of several ethnographic films. These films were written and co-directed with her husband, Ákos Östör, cultural anthropologist and professor emeritus of anthropology at Wesleyan University. Since 2016 Fruzzetti is also a Fellow at the Jawaharlal Nehru University Institute for Advanced Studies (JNIAS) in New Delhi, India.
Magical Death is a documentary film by anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon, that explores the role of the shaman within the Yanomamo culture, as well as the close relationship shamanism shares with politics within their society.
A Balinese Trance Seance is a 1979 documentary film by ethnographic filmmaker Tim Asch and anthropologist Linda Connor that profiles Jero Tapakan, a Balinese spirit medium. It was one of five films that were made with Jero Tapakan and were considered to be exemplary ethnographic films.
Dodoth Morning is a 1976 film by ethnographic filmmaker Tim Asch.
Herb Di Gioia is an Italian, American documentary film director who pioneered the field of "observational cinema" in his work and impacted ethnographic film making through his contributions as a teacher at Britain’s National Film and Television School. Di Gioia's films are recognized as a significant departure from the better-known works of other observational documentarians, like David and Judith MacDougall.
An ethnographic film is a non-fiction film, often similar to a documentary film, historically shot by Western filmmakers and dealing with non-Western people, and sometimes associated with anthropology. Definitions of the term are not definitive. Some academics claim it is more documentary, less anthropology, while others think it rests somewhere between the fields of anthropology and documentary films.
The Yanomami, also spelled Yąnomamö or Yanomama, are a group of approximately 35,000 indigenous people who live in some 200–250 villages in the Amazon rainforest on the border between Venezuela and Brazil.
Kenneth Good is an anthropologist most noted for his work among the Yanomami and his account of his experiences with them: Into the Heart: One Man’s Pursuit of Love and Knowledge Among the Yanomami. While researching and living with the group in Venezuela, Good married a Yanomami woman named Yarima, who emigrated to the United States with Good when he returned home. Their three children were raised in the United States, but Yarima, finding adapting to life in the United States too difficult, returned to her village when the children were young.
Ethnocinema, from Jean Rouch’s cine-ethnography and ethno-fictions, is an emerging practice of intercultural filmmaking being defined and extended by Melbourne, Australia-based writer and arts educator, Anne Harris, and others. Originally derived from the discipline of anthropology, ethnocinema is one form of ethnographic filmmaking that prioritises mutuality, collaboration and social change. The practice's ethos claims that the role of anthropologists, and other cultural, media and educational researchers, must adapt to changing communities, transnational identities and new notions of representation for the 21st century.
John Melville Bishop is a contemporary, U.S., documentary filmmaker known for the breadth of his collaborations, primarily in the fields of anthropology and folklore. He has worked with Alan Lomax, John Marshall, and extensively with the Smithsonian Institution and the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. In 2005, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for Visual Anthropology.
Jacques Lizot is a French anthropologist and linguist. He lived among the Yanomami people in Venezuela for over 20 years, documenting their culture and language. Among his writings are the 1976 book The Yanomami in the Face of Ethnocide, the 1985 book Tales of the Yanomami: Daily Life in the Venezuelan Forest and the 2004 Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Yanomami Language. The 2000 book Darkness in El Dorado and the 2010 documentary film Secrets of the Tribe included allegations that Lizot had traded goods for sexual favours from young boys. Lizot denied the allegations.