Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson in Bali: Their Use of Photography and Film

Essay Excerpt

In their Balinese research Bateson and Mead worked on a large scale. It was massive (extending over two years, with thousands of pictures and feet of film), collaborative (Mead and Bateson, as well as their team), comparative (intra-Bali, among several regions and castes, and extra-Bali, including New Guinea), and intermedia (verbal and visual, still and motion picture, plus a range of native ar- tifacts and texts). Bateson and Mead's work was ahead of its time, but circumstances left much analysis undone or unpublished. The fact that neither was a full-time teacher undoubtedly blunted the recognition their work demanded. The Balinese work of Bateson and Mead was like a vividly colored view of a sunset. We can know the sunset all the better because, from their records, we know the acuity of their vision and the distortion of their lenses. (Jacknis, 173)

About the Author

Ira Jacknis is an American anthropologist who studies Native American art of the Northwest Coast. He is currently based at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley.

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