Prof., students collaborate on tribute film

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Inspired by the work of David Maybury-Lewis, the late Harvard scholar, two K-State students and their professor made a documentary film telling the story of Lewis’ life and his exemplary work with Brazilian Indians.

The film, “Among Xavante Friends: A Tribute to David Maybury-Lewis,” was shown at the Pitt-Rivers Museum in Oxford, England, last June, according to a press release.

“It was a special tribute at a conference for anthropologists who are experts in South America,” said Harald Prins, K-State professor of anthropology. “Our film was greatly appreciated.”

Jessie Stone and Adam Bohannon, both 2008 graduates in anthropology from K-State, greatly contributed to the making of the film, according to Prins.

“This would have been a great project for doctorate students,” Prins said, “but to complete it as an undergraduate was an incredible experience.”

After taking classes from Prins, Stone and Bohannon spent five weeks traveling to South America. Prins said their adventures in South America allowed them to see everything they only had studied and heard about.

“I spent the summer of 2007 backpacking in Bolivia, Peru and Chile,” Bohannon said.  “The experience was nothing short of life-changing.”

The students created the film one year later.

“I am deeply interested in Latin American issues, especially issues of indigenous rights, culture change and media,” Bohannon said. “So when Dr. Prins contacted me to collaborate on this project honoring Maybury-Lewis’ life and work among the Xerente and Xavante of Central Brazil, I enthusiastically agreed.”

Prins especially appreciated the help Stone and Bohannon were able to offer with the technology involved in making a film. When Maybury-Lewis died in December 2007, Prins said he thought his colleague’s work needed to be recognized.

“As an anthropologist who has been working on projects with American Indians, I wanted to make sure his work was not forgotten,” Prins said.

Their anthropology degrees from K-State have led Stone and Bohannon in different and interesting directions. Bohannon is working for the Internet company Sun Microsystems as an instructional designer and social media specialist.

Prins said Bohannon was always especially interested in how the media relates to anthropology. Stone lives in Hawaii teaching social studies with Teach for America.

“It was a wonderful collaboration,” Prins said.

The film was such a success in Oxford that it will be shown again in late November in San Francisco. The film can be viewed online at www.cs.org, a Web site created by Maybury-Lewis and his wife.

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