i'm not there (8 mins.)

This visual essay grapples with Anand Pandian's incisive question: what do the circumstances of our ethnographic writing, share with the environments we write about? In lieu of verbal commentary, I present sensory juxtapositions of audio and still images from my fieldwork in Hyderabad with video montage of my everyday life in Philadelphia. Inspired by John Jackson's call for more vulnerable forms of reflexivity, this film highlights the role of my own subjectivity and environment in the writing of ethnographic stories as academic artifacts, while also evoking parallels of human striving and suffering which go beyond the First/Third World divide.

Directed by Indivar Jonnalagadda

Philadelphia PA, March 2021


Jackson, John L. 2004. “An Ethnographic Filmflam: Giving Gifts, DoingResearch, and Videotaping the Native Subject/Object.” American Anthropologist 106 (1): 32–42.

Pandian, Anand. 2020. “The Ecology of What We Write.” In Writing Anthropology: Essays on Craft and Commitment, 37–40. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

The Composters (10 mins.)

It’s another weekday for the crew at Bennett Compost. Hundreds of paying customers have left buckets-full of food scraps and other organic waste on their front curb across Philadelphia city. The crew set out in trucks to gather these heaps of organic waste materials and then there’s the patient work of processing the waste into nutrient rich compost. Can this ecologically beneficial work be done in the absence of robust city infrastructures and clear codes? Can it be done while paying workers a decent wage and providing them essential benefits? Can all this be done while making a profit to keep the enterprise sustainable? This is the story of The Composters, a story of an enterprise that strives to align these various motives.

Directed by Indivar Jonnalagadda, Philadelphia, May 2021.

SSMF 2022 Pause - Teaser (1 mins.)

Teaser for CAMRA's Screening Scholarship Media Festival 2022, on the theme "Pause".

Production Crew: Juan Castrill
ón, Larissa Johnson, Indivar Jonnalagadda
Concept and Editing: Indivar Jonnalagadda
Music: Juan
Castrillón and Larissa Johnson
Executive Producer: Juan
February 2022

Video Essays