The ethnologist, images, and phantoms. Three stories of gypsy science-fiction and their implications for visual anthropology

By Filippo Bonini Baraldi


In a Gypsy village of Romania, the videos produced by an ethnologist, a film-maker, and a cognitivist provoked a bizarre confusion of roles and an overthrow of film genres such as “documentary,” “fiction,” and “scientific image.” Far from being trivial, this amalgam reveals a particular way of conceiving of the ontological categories of person, person-image (actor), and person-skeleton (phantom), rooted in a strong ambiguity between “being oneself” and “playing a role.” An ambiguity that may fade away in some ephemeral moments, when the “true” person manifests him/herself.


  • Gypsies
  • Romania
  • visual anthropology
  • cinema
  • field research
Go to the article on