Avant Jean Rouch. Le cinéma français “ethnographique” en Afrique subsaharienne

Translated title of the contribution: Before Jean Rouch. French "ethnographic" film-making in Sub-saharan Africa

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In developing his own distinctive écriture, Jean Rouch was famously an autodidact, drawing only to a limited extent on pre-existing models of French ethnographic film-making practice in sub-Saharan Africa. This was certainly not due to a lack of knowledge or interest on his part as is testified by his many contributions to the 1967 Unesco historical catalogue, Films ethnographiques sur l’Afrique noire. This article offers an overview of the corpus of films that could be broadly classed as “ethnographic” and which were made in sub-Saharan Africa by French filmmakers prior to Rouch’s time. In doing so, it alternately endorses and contests, but also supplements Rouch’s own account of that corpus of work, since in recent years, a number of new films have come to light or have attracted renewed interest, largely on account of the digitisation of archive collections in France. In the final section, the originality of Rouch’s own contribution to French “ethnographic” filmmaking in sub-Saharan Africa is briefly considered.
Translated title of the contributionBefore Jean Rouch. French "ethnographic" film-making in Sub-saharan Africa
Original languageFrench
Pages (from-to)34-62
Number of pages29
JournalJournal des africanistes
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2018


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