One Week West of Molkom

Poltorak, Mike (2013) One Week West of Molkom. Video.

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Abstract

Each year, more than one thousand people from all over the world converge on the small Swedish alternative community of Ängsbacka, for a festival celebrating personal, spiritual and sustainable development. Through workshops and events like firewalking and sweat lodges the ‘No Mind’ festival offers inspiration and greater self awareness, knowledge and presence. Volunteers are key to creating the conviviality that creates an aesthetics of community, much valued by participants and volunteers alike. Inspired by the ‘shared anthropology’ of Jean Rouch, this film captures the experience of six volunteers and what they value most about the ‘No Mind’ festival.

Item Type: Visual media
Additional information: Relation to Published Research The documentary develops key themes in my published research on Tonga and my doctoral dissertation, research on the representation of vaccination and questions of efficacy in thematic terms. I have not published on the ethnography or anthropology of Sweden, nor on intentional communities or of volunteerism, but the themes present in the film and the methodology used to the produce the film very much develop the epistemological concerns, themes, inspirations in ‘Fun(d)raising’ and other publications. 1) Representation–The challenge of representing the community of Angsbacka and the experience of the No Mind festival is at the heart of the film. In doing so using a participative and feedback methodology, I built on published work on the challenge of representation of mental illness in epistemologically accessible terms (Poltorak 2007, 2011) and contested representations of the benefits of the MMR vaccination (Poltorak 2005). In all these publications I advocated attention to ethnographies of the particular and a particular engagement with interdisciplinarity, both uniquely served by visual productions: ‘Edvard Hviding has drawn interdisciplinarity into the realm of creativity and an inclusive approach that would not take intervention as a given (2003). As Hviding put it: “Approaching the diversity of Pacific worlds from an appreciation of human creativity requires an interdisciplinary inclusiveness that extends beyond academic disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences into local worldviews and indigenous epistemologies, taking these on board as partners in dialogue and collab- oration toward a plurality of knowledges” (2003, 43). His work echoes calls for Pacific anthropology to engage in epistemological dialogue (Gegeo and Watson-Gegeo 2001); to be accessible to Pacific Islanders (Hereniko 2000); and to direct research to some positive purpose (Smith 1999). Linda Tuhiwai Smith’s emphasis on utility is part of a larger project to establish indigenous methodologies as central to research. “Cultural protocols, values, and behaviour” would then become a part of a methodology based on reciprocity and leading to culturally sensitive, lin- guistically accessible dissemination (Smith 1999, 15).’ (Poltorak 2007 : 6) Through working as a volunteer I recognized the potential of using the volunteer experience as a vehicle to communicate wider concerns about the community. My film focuses on the experience of being a volunteer and will be used by the community to bring awareness to the likely challenges of volunteers during their time at Angsbacka (http://en.angsbacka.se/volunteer/volontar-festivaler/) . It has also contributed to a greater awareness in management of the wider potential of video for communication and decision making within the community. 2) Emblematic Characters My 2007 article in the Contemporary Pacific used the example of a famous eccentric in Tongan to engage with the diverse issues surrounding mental illness in Tonga. One of the first people to appear in the film Fun(d)raising, is a famous local eccentric, who features strongly in my doctoral dissertation to help explain Tongan notions of eccentricity. Similarly I have used a key emblematic character in ‘One Week West of Molkom’. Siddhartha Silversol has been coming to the festival for more than a decade, and is both well known within and outside the community, having been one of the key characters in ‘Three Miles North of Molkom’ and featuring in a Norwegian TV programme that will be broadcast in Autumn 2013. So the structure of the film draws extensively on my argument that case studies are an epistemologically sensitive mode of representation of the Tongan ethnography. This is also developed in Poltorak (2013) where I use a case study of a man who attributed efficacy to a healer, inspite of being healed by the hospital. The focus on Siddhartha Silversol as the central orienting character thus draws on my published research. 3) Questions of Efficacy In a recent publication (Poltorak 2013) I have argued for a reframing of efficacy into the realm of how such models of efficacy actually impact on health outcomes. This documentary plays with a parallel modality in the question of reception of the efficacy of film. Rather than create a film that claims to represent the transformation of experience of the No Mind festival, I have here tried to focus on what the impact is of that transformation on people viewing the film, and in terms of their relationships with others. I am here shifting the evaluation of ethnographic film from it purported claim to represent ‘reality’ to its transformational impact, in a similar way of how I argued that healers in Tonga should not be evaluated on the basis of their ability to represent sickness in biomedical terms but in terms of positive benefits on their patients (Poltorak 2013, 2010). I also aim for the documentary to be efficacious in the sense that it contributes to a transformational experience in those people who have some experience of the community.
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > Visual and Computational Anthropology
Depositing User: Mike Poltorak
Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2015 09:11 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 14:16 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/47419 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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