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  • Nanook of the North – Robert Flaherty (1922)

    Nanook of the North – Robert Flaherty (1922)

    In the days long before the term “documentary” had even been coined this full feature movie did it all. The filmmaker Robert Flaherty (1884-1951) had an early exposure to people of the Arctic. Born in Michigan, he spent quite a bit of time traveling with his father in northern Canada. He developed an ethnographic eye and casually filmed many short sequences of the daily lives of Inuit people. He later decided to put all these clips together to create a […]

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  • World Without Sun – Jacques-Yves Cousteau (1964)

    World Without Sun – Jacques-Yves Cousteau (1964)

    World Without Sun is perhaps the most progressive documentary in Cousteau’s filmmaking career. Produced in 1964 it captures activities of six crew members living in Continental Shelf Station II at 10m depth for 30 days in Red Sea. The undersea colony was the forerunner of other human habitation experiments such as Biosphere2 or Mars500 and even the International Space Station ISS. It also inspired other film makers like James Cameron. The film must be watched considering the context of its […]

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  • A Glimpse of Human Ecology Through the Nomadic Life of Netsilik Inuit – Quentin Brown & Asen Balıkçı (1967)

    A Glimpse of Human Ecology Through the Nomadic Life of Netsilik Inuit – Quentin Brown & Asen Balıkçı (1967)

    The Netsilik Series is very successful in documenting the lives of Netsilik Dr. Asen Balikci of the University of Montréal it became one of the ethnographical masterpieces belonging to a genre called course material for school children. Dr. Balikci has since produced many high quality documentaries. In the beginning, we are reminded of the fact that although it is an accurate depiction of Inuit way of life some parts had to be enacted. It has no narration or subtitles. Hearing […]

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  • When and Why We Lost Hair?

    When and Why We Lost Hair?

    When and why our ancestors began to wear clothing is a curious story. Clothing may have emerged for insulation of body heat. Similarly it also have provided a means to carry things and improve mobility. Cold snaps engulfed the earth many times. Using ice cores from Antarctica scientists identified 8 glacial cycles within the last 800 thousand years alone. An archaelogical site from Israel provides the earliest evidence of controlled fire by humans spanning the same time period. We know […]

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  • Why Societies Collapse? – Jared Diamond (2003)

    Why Societies Collapse? – Jared Diamond (2003)

    Jared Diamond examines how societies collapse in a five-point framework: [1] Impact on environment, [2] Climate change, [3] Relations with friendly neighbors, [4] Relations with unfriendly neighbors, [5] Perception and resolution of environmental problems. Diamond is the author of  a Pulitzer prize winner book Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, published in 1997. He seeks to explain Eurasian hegemony throughout history. Using evidence from ecology, archaeology, genetics, linguistics, and distinct historical case studies, he argues that the differences in social structure and technology among human societies do […]

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  • The Botany of Desire – Michael Pollan – PBS (2009)

    The Botany of Desire – Michael Pollan – PBS (2009)

    Domestication is a defining feature of recent human evolution. In animals first trait selected by humans was behavior. In plants harvestability through selection of non-shattering seeds was the first trait of domestication. Plant domestication paved the way to agriculture which enabled highly specialized sedentary human societies. Domesticated plants differ from their wild ancestors in distinct ways that can be categorized under a term called as the domestication syndrome. Domestication syndrome includes reduced shattering of seeds (seeds don’t separate from the […]

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