Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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SHADOW CARAVANS [Abstract ID: 1203-08]

Till Jakob Frederik TROJER, PhD Candidate Anthropology and Sociology, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London

In 1968, the American Anthropologist and Ethnographic Filmmaker Robert Gardner (1925-2011) undertook an attempt to document the salt trade in the Dallol Depression of the Northern ‘Afar Region in Ethiopia. Gardner was specifically interested in the “wondrous environment of unbearable heat and intense color” (Gardner n.d.) of the region. His unfinished footage was edited and released as three-minute short film in 2011 under the title “Salt” (1968/2011; 3min). This ethnographic documentary builds on Robert Gardner’s first attempt to document the marvelous and fascinating journey of the salt caravans by focusing on a particular group of ‘Afar “caravanists” (called makama). I employed newest, modern camera equipment (Feiyu-Tech a2000 Gimbal Stabilizer) that allowed to conduct walk and talk interviews ensuring that the natural flow of events and daily-routine will be not be disrupted or interrupted while. The whole project is a collaborative work, i.e. the people involved in the film were consulted throughout and included in all decision-making processes regarding editing, sound and scene selection.