Visual Representations of Traditional Northern Communities in Ethnographic Film: Historical and Modern Perspectives


This paper investigates the ethnographic films about the indigenous peoples of the North, moving from the visual representations of the North produced in the Soviet state to the new discourses of post-Soviet Russian documentary films. By demonstrating how the representations of traditional ethnocultural communities of the North have evolved over time in Russian documentary, the authors focus on the contemporary documentary film Oil Field (Oil Field; Ivan Golovnev 2012), which depicts a life of the family Piak (Nenets Vasily Piak and his Khanty wife, Svetlana) in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug—Yugra. Authors came to conclusion that ethnographic cinema would be considered as a cultural mediator: it is both reflectively represents the reality of the traditional culture and contributes some of the most lasting visual formulae with regard to the way the indigenous populations of the Far North are framed and remembered.

Keywords: ethnographic film, indigenous peoples of the North, reindeer herding, oil industry, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug, Russia


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