Hunting in Itelmen

Filming a Past Practice in a Disappearing Language

in Sibirica
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This article presents a narrative and analytical account of an ethnographic filmmaking project that could be described as “salvage anthropology.“ In 2008 anthropologist David Koester and ethnographic filmmaker Liivo Niglas worked with indigenous Itelmen hunters Georgii Zaporotskii and Pavel Khaloimov to record accounts of hunting practices in the Itelmen language and the formerly practiced tradition of hunting sable with a net. The article describes the project and what went into the making of the first film to result, Itelmen Stories. It provides details of the ethnohistorical record of sable hunting that could not be included in the film. The article emphasizes the collaborative and serendipitous nature of “salvage anthropology“ in the twenty-first century, and discusses the problem of “museification“ and the value of filming technique that emphasized equally observation of practices and attending to narratives. The article gives an account of the filming in context and in turn a more general context for understanding of Itelmen life today.

Sibirica

Interdisciplinary Journal of Siberian Studies

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