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CinemaTalk: a Conversation with Tami Blumenfield

dGenerate Films presents CinemaTalk, an ongoing series of conversations with esteemed scholars of Chinese cinema studies. These conversations are presented on this site in audio podcast and/or text format. They are intended to help the Chinese cinema studies community keep abreast of the latest work being done in the field, as well as to learn what recent Chinese films are catching the attention of others. This series reflects our mission to bring valuable resources and foster community around the field of Chinese film studies.

Tami Blumenfield (photo courtesy of University of Washington / Tami Blumenfield)

Tami Blumenfield (photo courtesy of University of Washington / Tami Blumenfield)

Tami Blumenfield is a Lecturer at the University of Washington. Her research mainly focuses on the education and media representation of minorities in southwest China, especially the Moso and Na. Her teaching areas cover movement and media representation in contemporary China, indigenous media, kinship studies, visual anthropology, and anthropology of education. Tami Blumenfield is also one of the organizers of the Moso Media Projects, which comprises the Moso Film Festival, participatory media production, and ethnographies of Moso Media.

In this conversation with dGenerate’s Kevin Lee, Tami shares her engagement and interaction with the Moso community, and articulates the effect of filmmaking process on local people and culture with vivid examples from her own experience. She draws particular attention to the ethics of representation, the significance of collaborative projects, and the role of filmmakers and researchers from an anthropological point of view.

Play the Podcast (Time: 22:04)

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Download it here (right-click to download). (File size: 20.7 MB)

Click through for a list of Tami’s publications and a timecoded index of topics covered in the interview.


  1. 2008: “Anthropologists in Motion.” In Anthropology News, January 2008.

  2. 2007: “Best Practices for IGERT Sustainability.” Co-authored with Renate Sadrozinski and Maresi Nerad. Report for the Center for Innovation and Research in Graduate Education at the University of Washington.

  3. 2004: Contemporary Moso Adaptations to Mainstream Culture: Examining the Influence of Education and Tourism. In Zhang Xisheng, ed. Ethnic Minorities and the Market Economy. Kunming: Yunnan University Press.

  4. 2004: “Walking Marriages”. In Anthropology News 45 (5).

  5. 2003: “A Country of Daughters: China’s Na Women.” In Nervy Girl (May). Portland, Oregon: Independent Publishing Northwest.

  6. 2003: “Na Education in the Face of Modernity.” In Landscapes of Diversity: Indigenous Knowledge, Sustainable Livelihoods and Resource Governance in Montane Mainland Southeast Asia. Xu Jianchu and Stephen Mikesell, eds. Pp. 487-494. Kunming: Yunnan Science and Technology Press.

  7. 2003: “Languages and Lives: Bilingual Education and the Quest for Naxi and Moso Identity.” Ao-Tung (XXI): Oberlin, Ohio: Oberlin College East Asian Studies Program.

Interview index by times and subjects:

  1. 00:00 – 00:53: Tami’s recent projects in regards to Chinese film

  2. 00:54 – 03:55: How did Tami get involved with the Moso community and how did her research focus shift from the community to the filmmaking process of local people?

  3. 03:56 – 05:59: The role of academics in anthropological research

  4. 06:00 – 09:09: The intention and result of Tami’s projects

  5. 09:10 – 12:03: Example of the gap between local people’s understanding of how their words will be used and the consequences of working with filmmakers

  6. 12: 04 – 13:25: The significance of making people more conscious about the filmmaking process when they work with filmmakers

  7. 13:26 – 16:42: Recent documentaries from China that have impressed Tami the most

  8. 16:43 – 18:36: How films are used in Tami’s class

  9. 18:37 – 19:59: Issue of representation in visual anthropology, who has the right to portray other people, and how the real life of people who are portrayed has been affected by those images

  10. 20:00 – 21:23: The myth of indigenous people develops into a localized economy around film production


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