Student films

It is our pleasure to be back on campus and to meet a growing number of anthropology students at the Vienna Visual Anthropology Lab. Some student films, developed at the Lab, are showcased below.


Daughters of the Elements (2021) by Rébecca Alquier and Léa Stückelschweiger

The aim of this documentary is to conduct research into notions of femininity, feminism, gender, and the male gaze, as seen from the perspective of today’s self-proclaimed witches.

The inspiration was the book Witches, the undefeated power of women by Mona Chollet (2018, original in French). The book questions the role of witch-hunting in Europe between the 15th and 17th century. While witch-hunts have been highly romanticized and de-dramatized as “mythical crimes from the church burning a few women”, the book reconsiders witch-hunting as a history of female genocide, based on sexist reasonings.

 

Nowadays there is a revival of a modern witch movements on social media. Some see this movement as feminist because it reconnects women with their legacy and challenges patriarchy. For others, spirituality is innate: they do not especially engage with feminist problematics but might still experience empowerment. This leads us to the following research questions: is the reappropriation of witchcraft a sign of a new feminist wave? Can witchcraft be used as an emancipatory tool? What does it mean to talk about “feminine power”?

Rébecca Alquier and Léa Stückelschweiger made this film out of their own initiative, with equipment from the Vienna Visual Anthropology Lab and technical support from Viktoria Paar. In parallel, Rébecca wrote a bachelor thesis on witchcraft as part of the Bachelor Seminar: Empiric Data Collecting and Analysis (led by Dr. Bernhard Hadolt).