|Ethnobiological Media Archive|
Media Archive is a proposal under development. Some of the
activities described have already been begun; others are
projected. Commentary is welcome and may be sent to David Strauch
program will further develop the use of electronic media
in ethnobiological research and presentations. The University of
Hawai‘i at Mānoa Botany
Department will offer
classes in research filmmaking in collaboration with UH's Academy for Creative Media,
establish an accessible collection of media for both research and
presentation uses, and produce a series of films treating
ethnobotanical issues. This has been selected as one of
the programs for the University of
Hawai‘i Foundation's Centennial
and Visual Media
Academic research and
documentary filmmaking are similar in structure, but have historically
differed in orientation. A result of this has been that most
documentaries lack academic rigor. New developments in digital
media put filmmaking within the means of researchers, yet the
possibilities of more rigorous use of the media are only beginning to
explored. This project aims to encourage this exploration.
The goals of the Ethnobiological Media Archive are:
At the center of this project is a collection of footage
culturally significant plant/human interactions. The library of
footage will provide a resource for
researchers and filmmakers. One of our projects is to figure out
how best to structure access to the material. There may
be a catalog available online, from which high-quality material can
be selected and sent to researchers on DVD or to filmmakers on tape.
of the functions
of the catalog is to track information on
participants and filmmakers, and develop protocols for the use of
footage and assignment of rights. Different levels of ownership
material will need to be recognized and maintained. Informed
of participants is a critical feature of both
research and filmmaking, and will be prioritized within the archive.
Our initial collection at the University of Hawai‘i contains footage from Southeast Asia, East Asia, and the Pacific. Additionally we have taped presentations from the 2001 Building Bridges with Traditional Knowledge conference, some presentations from Society for Economic Botany (SEB) meetings, and 40 presentations for the UH Introduction to Ethnobotany course (accessible here). We are in the process of cataloging this material.
In order to foster the use of media in research, and to increase the coverage and quality of material available in the archive, a key component of the archive project is the training of students of ethnobotany in skills of using new digital media, both filming and editing.
Trainings have thus far been conducted at the University of
Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and at the 2006 SEB meeting in Thailand. An ongoing film
workshop/project at UH Mānoa is described here.
The training in Thailand was supported in part by an Arts and
Sciences Advisory Council Award, and an Academic Opportunities
Scholarship from the Colleges of Arts and Sciences Alumni Association,
which also funded
the beginning production on a film on the usefulness of markets in
ethnobotanical research. Future trainings will be conducted
internationally in conjunction with trips to produce films.
exercise for beginning ethnobotanical filmmakers is described here.
Part of the work of the Archive will be the production of
documentary films treating ethnobiological themes. These will
conform to the
standards of research expected by academic journals, including
submission to peer-review. In preparing productions our target is
not a film which may be shown at festivals, but a navigable
presentation available through other digital means of distribution,
such as DVD, which offer greater possibilities for access and rigor.
For example, since DVDs allow multiple sound and subtitle
tracks, no original material need be lost to a covering
voice-over. One of our ongoing concerns will be the preservation
of material in its original language, and the accessibility of this
material in the final presentation, so that members of the communities
in which the research took place will be able to view the final
work. Other advantages of the navigable presentation are the
ability to have multiple layers of presentation, from an accessible
abstract to a possibly more specialized exposition, and the ability to
append research data to the presentation.
One of our projects for the coming year will be the
production in Mexico of a film on the Ethnobiology of Mole, presented
by Edelmira Linares of the UNAM Botanical Garden.
When funding is available, the EMA will award several small grants for the production of ethnobiological films. Successful applicants will demonstrate, within the working team, competence in both filmmaking and ethnobiological research, and will present a research plan and storyboard of their proposed projects.