Norris Nicholson, Heather (1997) In amateur hands: framing time and space in home-movies. History Workshop Journal (43). pp. 198-213. ISSN 1363-3554

Amateur movies are a window upon past geographies and memories. The following discussion identifies some practical and intellectual issues associated with using archival film in the study of historical and geographical change. Mapping the unofficial sources of historical knowledge produces ever-changing versions of events, people and places through time and space. Early amateur film is one way of tapping into people's memories about themselves and how they relate to others in contrasting contexts. These images allow for the kind of knowledge which. as Raphael Samuel suggests, creeps in sideways as a by-product of studying something else.
Historians. geographers and others often revel in the kaleidoscopic gaze given by each twist of view as different stances, sources and situations provoke alternative interpretations. The camera lens of the early amateur film-maker framed subject-matter now laden with issues of racism, sexism and colonialism. This article considers how amateur film may relate to and inform contemporary interests in spatial and social relations, as well as changing notions of place and identity.
As with most sources of evidence, however, amateur film poses both practical and intellectual challenges. Both the quantity and the quality of amateur footage raise important questions for archivists of moving imagery as they address problems of storage. conservation and access. Given the diversity found within early amateur films and some of their resemblances to modern home video-making, the growing interest in amateur footage cannot be isolated from more practical concerns. Accordingly, this article recognises three clusters of inter-related issues: availability, interpretation and future application.

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