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2012 Highlights

Michael Stewart

31 May 2012

Michael Stewart is the founder of Open City Docs at UCL which produces both Open City Docs Fest (2nd edition, June 21-24 this year) and the MyStreet project. He teaches anthropology at UCL, promoting the use of documentary film as a means to see the world differently, encouraging students and others to understand why documentary matters and to think about how it can be used.

Abstract: “MyStreet: It’s where you are, who you are and how you live - your film on the map.”

MyStreet is a living on-line archive of everyday life, encouraging you to make your mark and bring your area to life through film.

MyStreet revives the radical project at the centre of the 1930s Mass Observation movement (founded by the anthropologist Tom Harrison, poet Charles Madge, and film-maker Humphrey Jennings). This earlier quasi-anthropological attempt to democratize ethnography in the service of the 'everyday', combined with the potential of film as a vehicle of contestation within the public sphere led to the creation of a digital project documenting life in the UK and above all in London.

MyStreet has set out to unleash the potential of a new form of collaborative anthropology, to grasp the 'minor' importance of the non-canonical media expressions that My Street provides a forum for, and also a means of dissemination. The project rests on an appreciation of the transformative power of 'minor' practices but also attempts to circumvent decaying print-age vehicles. MyStreet aims to provide a window onto, and means of active assertion by, those marginalized sections of the population whose voices are not heard or who, too often, the state seeks to suppress and incarcerate.

With screenings of excerpts of some of the MyStreet films - see www.mystreetfilms.com