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This interview with Nicolas Jaoul reflects on the making of his film Sangharsh, Times of Strife (Sister Productions, 2018) from an anthropological, political and cinematographic perspective. Filmed over four years of doctoral fieldwork conducted in the late ’90s in Uttar Pradesh, Northern India, the images introduce the viewers to the daily life of the “Dalits Panthers” and their struggle against castes. By choosing not to give any historical, cultural or sociological context, the editing has radically experimented with the transition from academic writing to an immersive logic specific to cinema. It leads the viewer to identify with this struggle of the margins while counteracting any kind of exoticism. The film raises the question: what new horizons of understanding can cinema bring to anthropology, and more specifically to political anthropology? The interview underlines how the use of the camera evolved in the context of ongoing transformations induced by the fieldwork. Initially focused on leaders of the movement, the gaze gradually moves towards characters from their family circles, who knew how to catch the filmmaker’s attention and to impose their points of view which are relevant and critical despite being less ideological in nature, through their “acted” performances. The camera can thus be thought of as a device to shed light on forms of resistance and affirmation that subalterne individuals develop within a movement, where their voices are less legitimate than the spokespersons’ authority. This opens new paths to reflect on the possible contributions of cinema to political anthropology.

  • anthropology
  • cinema
  • Dalits Panthers
  • India (Uttar Pradesh)
  • politics of images
Kassia Aleksic
Nicolas Jaoul
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Uploaded on on 30/11/-0001
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