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Doon School Chronicles


Produced by: David MacDougall (
140 min. Color. 2000.
Captioned: Yes
Catalog #: 0030
Price: $295.00


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This intimate and groundbreaking study of India’s most prestigious boys’ boarding school is one of
the most acclaimed works of renowned ethnographic filmmaker David MacDougall. In this original
and beautifully photographed film MacDougall examines not only the life of the boys in the school
and the culture associated with that life; he also inquires into the school’s “social aesthetics,” the
qualities of place, material objects, and social interaction that provides a distinctive backdrop for
the everyday life of this community.

Sometimes called “the Eton of India,” Doon School has nevertheless developed its own
characteristic style and presents a curious mixture of privilege and egalitarianism. The school was
established by a group of Indian nationalists in the 1930s to produce a new generation of leaders
who would guide the nation after Independence. Since then it has become highly influential in the
creation of the new Indian elites and has come to epitomize many aspects of Indian postcoloniality.

Shot over a two-year period, the film explores the social aesthetics and ideology of the school
through its rituals, the physical environment it has created, and its effects upon several boys of
different ages and temperaments. The film is divided into ten “chapters,” each headed by a text
taken from school documents. This narrative structure lends great cohesiveness to the film and at
the same time facilitates classroom use and helps focus discussion on the key themes and issues
explored. 2/3
4/22/2018 Doon School Chronicles | Berkeley Media

Doon School Chronicles will take its place among the classics of ethnographic cinema. It is essential
viewing for a wide array of classes in cultural anthropology, Asian and Indian studies, visual
anthropology, education and childhood studies, and post-colonial studies. An excellent
accompaniment to the film is the book, Constructing Post-Colonial India: National Character and
the Doon School, by anthropologist Sanjay Srivastava (Routledge, 1998).

Note: The DVD version of the film is fully authored, with menus and chapter markers put in by the
filmmaker. It also features optional closed captions, which the VHS version does not have.

"An extraordinarily insightful and intimate exploration of the social and cultural landscape of India´s most
elite boys´ boarding school. In following the boys´ daily routines and dramas, the film also affords us a rare
glimpse at processes of postcolonial Indian identity formation. This is a wonderful teaching tool that will
enhance any course dealing with issues of adolescence, education, institutional structure and ´habitus,´ or
postcolonial elites. My students were stupefied by the eloquence, independence, and maturity of the Doon
School boys." — Lucien Taylor, Asst. Prof. of Anthropology, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder

"The Doon School Project in India by David MacDougall is perhaps the most noteworthy digital ethnographic
film project." — Jay Ruby, Prof. Emeritus of Anthropology, Temple University, in The Last 20 Years of Visual
Anthropology – A Critical Review (2005)

"Without doubt the Doon Project will provide plentiful material for discussion of such matters as the place of
such a school in a democratic society; the acculturation of children; identity in the old sense versus
´identity´ in its new sense of national or cultural conformism; how an Úlite perpetuate its values; or, at a
more experiential level, how we may each position ourselves in relation to the machineries of social
constraint. Nevertheless, simply to call these anthropological films would, while true, be a little like calling
Things Fall Apart [by Chinua Achebe] an anthropological novel. They are a major contribution to our screen
culture, and deserve to be seen well beyond the confines of the discipline." — Dai Vaughan, film editor,
novelist, and author of For Documentary (University of California Press, 1999), in Visual Anthropology (Vol.
18, 2005)

Margaret Mead Film Festival honoree
Assn. for Asian Studies honoree
American Anthropological Assn. selection
Society for Visual Anthropology selection
Royal Anthropological Institute Film Festival honoree
Bilan du Film Ethnographique, Paris, honoree
Gottingen Intl. Ethnographic Film Festival honoree

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