Domestic Ethnography, Diaspora and Memory in Baba 1989

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This chapter offers some insights into the practice and function/s of diasporic domestic ethnography in documentary film based around the short documentary Baba 1989 (2014), produced as part of my practice-as-research project. Domestic ethnography is a term introduced by Michael Renov (2004) to describe the complex intersubjective interaction that takes place in documentary films that engage the participation and involvement of the filmmaker’s family members. My research is interested in what happens to this relationship in the context of diasporic displacement. The subjects of my short documentary films are my parents and family members, their memories of displacement from Iran and their/our experience as Iranians living in Britain. Consequently, the research is situated within the specificity of the Iranian diaspora, that is the communities of Iranians that have settled in cities across the globe following their displacement and dispersal predominantly in the aftermath of the Iranian revolution of 1979 and the subsequent Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988. Baba 1989 documents my father’s personal memories of arriving in Britain in 1989, following four years of separation from the rest of the family. His personal testimony is juxtaposed with a family home video playing and repeating on a TV monitor, occasionally faltering and dropping out. The film provides a useful case study for examining some of the interactions that take place between family archive, domestic ethnography and diasporic subjectivity. In what follows, I introduce domestic ethnography as conceived by Renov then discuss its role within a diasporic setting drawing on the experience of making Baba 1989, reflecting on the role of the home video in the film, as well as the function of the film itself within and beyond the family.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDomestic Imaginaries
Subtitle of host publicationNavigating the Home in Global Literary and Visual Cultures
EditorsRebecca Harper, Hollie Price
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9783319664903
ISBN (Print)9783319664897
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2017


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