Running from the camera

Running from the camera
Batek children, Taman Negara national park, Pahang, Malaysia, 8/2/10

This game is called anthropologist-baiting. It is much enjoyed by Batek children, and is played whenever the resident anthropologist produces a camera. The rule is that the player must run quickly into the anthropologist's field of vision, and shoot off before the anthropologist is able to raise the camera to her face. It is desirable to shift the position of the body so that only a posterior or a portion of neck is revealed to the camera. The more concealed by ambient objects, the better. Not all players achieve this level of expertise and some are defeated by the anthropologist's determination. Failure often leads to giggles and, less often, tantrums.

The anthropologist may intiate the game by scowling and squinting at the children with camera in hand. Once eye contact is made, there is tacit agreement to play, and the children will perform to script. The game will begin with a simple dash-and-disappear by the children, and conclude with the anthropologist turning round and round panning the children with the camera. This game is best played by a young anthropologist. An anthropologist who has photographed at least two generations of children may find that her knees require emergency surgery.


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