Writing Panare - Portrait of a Linguist on Fieldwork


1996 / 30 minutes

Directed by
Paul Henley
Country of production
United Kingdom
Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology Staff Film

Marie-Claude Muller is a linguist who has worked for many years with the Panare, an Amerindian people of Venezuelan Amazonia. She has now been commissioned by the government literacy programme to prepare reading primers in Panare. Writing Panare shows her gathering a range of materials for the primers, from zoological taxonomies to myths. She is also shown working with Panare schoolteachers on an alphabet to accommodate local dialectical variations. These scenes are intercut with an interview in which she describes the principles underlying the literacy programme and considers its role in helping the Panare confront the consequences of contact with the national society. The film also features three myths told at length by a senior Panare man as well as scenes of everyday life in a number of different Panare communities.

South America
Linguistics / Language Education / Knowledge Transmission