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CSS colloquium - Jean Baptiste Gouyon: Natural history film making as a culture og a knowledge production

‘A collection of cinematograph pictures dealing with animal life should be placed in every important museum’ – Natural history film-making, a culture of knowledge production?

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Monday 4 June 2012,  at 14:15 - 15:45



Natural history film-making, as a practice generating visual representations of animals behaving undisturbed in their natural habitat, took of in the first decade of the 20th century. In this paper, I would like to reflect on the contention, formulated very early on, that natural history films are objects of knowledge, and that the set of practices and beliefs that we can call natural history film-making is a culture of knowledge production. The  approach will be two fold. First, the paper will discuss the origins of the practice, and how the basic tenets of this culture came about. Second, based on one specific example, I will discuss the way natural history film-makers construct researchers in the field sciences, and their relationship with them, in a way that typifies natural history film-making as an enterprise of knowledge production, different from science and not subservient to it. The paper will be illustrated by extracts from natural history films.