Visuality, Postcoloniality, Ethnicity, Sexuality
Chapter Five. Rey Chow’s Cultural Translation
• C H A P T E R F I V E • Rey Chow’s Cultural Translation Literal and Non-Literal Translation n the concluding chapter of Primitive Passions (1995), in a chapter entitled “Film as Ethnography,” Rey Chow asks the question of the relationships between ethnography and the complex matter of visual media representa- tions. She asks this because by and large any serious consideration of the im- pact and implications of filmic, TV and other media representations have tra- ditionally been excluded or subordinated in the conceptualization and construction of the classical anthropological ethnographic “scene.” The ethno- graphic scene is a scenario most commonly formulated as being a situation in- volving an ethnographer and a native subject (or group). The presence and role of all manner of media are not normally immediately considered in this sce- nario. Yet the contemporary world is, and has been for well over a century, saturated with media—and moreover with a range of mediated images that of- ten claim to testify to some kind of insight into other cultures, in a quasi- anthropological way. There are also types of media text that seem to constitute, precipitate or otherwise relate to one or another kind of cross-cultural encoun- ter, and so on. (I have written about this in Bowman 2010.) The documentary film is perhaps the exemplary contemporary form of media genre that has closest affinities with anthropology; just as the wide variety of texts that seem to represent “other cultures,” however falsely or fictitiously—such...
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