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Published in 1943, Gregory Bateson’s major study of the Nazi film Hitlerjunge Quex (itself shot in 1933) is here translated into French for the first time. If it is worth reading today, it is for three reasons. First, it sheds light on the trajectory of a man who, made famous in 1936 by his work on the naven ceremony in New Guinea, was among the most innovative of the 20th century. Between his birth in 1904 and death in 1980, Bateson established, at the multidisciplinary crossroads of linguistics, sociology, psychiatry, and cybernetics, a vast body of knowledge aimed at clarifying the cultural dimension of personalities and social behaviors. Secondly, the study of this Nazi film allows us to follow the birth of “film analysis” when this discipline was still in its infancy. Within the collections of the MoMA in New York, and in parallel to Siegfried Kracauer who was working independently, Bateson developed an analytical approach that emphasized how a film made it possible to highlight “the psychology of its creators” and the beliefs, myths, or expectations specific to the individuals for whom it was intended. Finally, this forgotten article illustrates how the social sciences were enlisted into the American war effort. Partly financed by the federal government and intended for training soldiers, this text allows us, by following how Bateson goes about making science, to grasp the place of politics in the construction of scholarly approaches.

  • film analysis
  • Nazism
  • social sciences
  • intelligence services
  • Bateson
Gregory Bateson
Text introduced, annotated and translated by
Christophe Granger
This is the latest publication of the author on cairn.
Uploaded on on 30/11/-0001
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