Annotation: Torresan, Angela. 2011. Roundtrip: Filming a Return Home

Torresan, Angela. 2011. Roundtrip: Filming a Return Home. Visual Anthropology Review, 27(2): 119-130.

Torresan follows MacDougall’s (1992) view that images produce a different kind of knowledge, and that film allows one to “learn something experientially”. In addition, Torresan argues that film “works theoretically”, and that it is a “suggestive project that connotes, rather than denotes, anthropological theory” (127). Using as the base of her analysis her film Return Home (1999), Torresan suggests that film “serves more than to simply inform the findings of a research and illustrate a written text; it is rather part of our process of discovering and theorizing.” Filming the first return of her informant home to Brazil, from Lisbon, Torresan realized that her filming enabled her to witness things which she otherwise wouldn’t have access to. For instance, Flavia’s (her subject) refusal to be filmed at the post office sending home the gifts she had bought, enabled Torresan to realize that gift-sending is perceived as contradicting the middle-class status that Brazilians living overseas ascribe to themselves. The filming of this return was not merely done for illustrative purposes, it also delivered “an implicit and unspoken multisensorial dimension of how Brazilians seized their place at that particular period in this new postcolonial encounter” (122). In relation to Torresan’s own theorization of migrants living transnationally, it was during her filming and through her subject’s performance in front of the camera, that she discovered the importance of the trip to her subject who was in the “ process of reconstituting a new concept of home” (124). On the film’s usefulness to migration studies, Torresan reflects that the film also challenges the “myth of return” nurtured by immigrants. Following Constable’s findings, Torresan’s film subject was likewise located “not in movement but in multiple places” (125).

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