"EXCUSE ME, EVERYTHING IS NOT ALL RIGHT": On Ethnography, Film, and Representation

Essay Excerpt

The challenge O'Rourke has set for himself is to create a film that is self-revealing, but not self-indulgent; a film that explores a subject with the potential for voyeurism - the nature of a type of relationship between a man and a woman that symbolizes the unequal power relations between Westerners and Others - that is not voyeuristic and exploitative itself. Visual metaphors of processes of imaging, such as taking pictures, the nature of a gaze, and the control over the choice and distribution of images (as in television programming) that represent the unequal power inherent in relationships between the West and Others have become a leitmotif of O'Rourke's work. Even though O'Rourke will still exercise ultimate control over the editing of the film, putting cameras in the hands of "the Other" may well prove to be an antidote to the potential dangers inherent in the project, and another innovative step in his development of a more dialogical form of nonfiction film. 

About the Author

Professor Lutkehaus researches Melanesian gender and social organization, political and economic anthropology, religion and symbolic anthropology. Recent research involves the study of women, children, gendered missions, and the maternal behavior of Catholic nuns in Papua New Guinea. In addition to her regional interest in Oceania, she has also begun research on the role of community-based organizations in Kenya concerned with adolescent girls and HIV/AIDS. She is also interested in visual studies, especially in Western representations of Pacific Island peoples and in the display of non-Western art in Western fine art museums.

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