[Banner: still from The Murderers are Among Us, dir. Wolfgang Staudte, DEFA, 1946].
The relationship between cinema and culture is complex and little understood, in spite of decades of research, discussion and analysis. The huge increase in narrative cinema (and television) resulting from digital technologies and global streaming services is hard to grasp, and what it actually “means” for society and history seems beyond consideration. The psychosocial and cultural effects of media saturation is just too vast a canvas to try to work on.
When, more than thirty years ago, I began considering the effects of screen-based narratives on cultural forms it was with a very naive expectation: that the impact of narrative media on cultural practices would significantly alter the way humans experience themselves and their world. Cultural difference would not be obliterated, but would modulate how films were made and received by audiences. However, the history of cinema in relation to sites of trauma has occupied more of my time recently. This blog is intended to fill in the background to on-going research in these fields.
I was Professor of Anthropology in the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in Sydney for many years, and in 2002 became Dean of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of New South Wales. After five years of administration I was able to return to my work in cinema as Professor of Film Studies in the School of Arts and Media.
I am using this site to support on-going research and publication in contemporary film culture. I am especially interested in the history of cinema in Cambodia, the role of cinema in North Korea, and German cinema especially in the war and postwar period. My main focus is on questions around cinema, trauma and ethical representation (fiction/documentary).