While doing ethnographic research alongside the Koutroulou Magoula excavation, near the Neo Monastiri Village in Thessaly, anthropologist Konstantinos Kalantzis constantly encountered peoples’ narratives that linked archaeological endeavors to poignant war experiences of the 20th century. Two of his senior interlocutors in particular, Christos and Vassilis, frequently expressed the desire to visit the mountainous area where some of their family members spent time during the 1940’s as members of the communist guerilla forces. During the Greek Civil War some their siblings were killed in clashes with right-wing paramilitaries or forcibly migrated to the Soviet Union only to return some 30 years later.
‘Dowsing the Past’ is an ethnographic film that documents the journey undertaken by the two local men, along with the anthropologist, and two of his Athens-based peers. The men drove from Neo Monastiri in the plain of Thessaly to the ‘National Resistance Museum’ in Rentina, hoping to find anything related to the siblings’ biographies. On the way, the locals recollect national and personal (hi)stories, while searching the landscape for lost treasures, and other traces of their own and their siblings’ past.
The film is about indigenous geographies of imagination, trauma, and the sensory experiences of the past; and the complex entanglements between browsing the landscape, and remembering local and global histories. ‘Dowsing the Past’ also explores the dynamics of the ethnographic encounter, including the ambiguity, affect, and humor that emerged in the meeting between an anthropologist, two cinematographers from Athens and senior local men in Thessaly.
Directed by Konstantinos Kalantzis, Camera by Leonidas Papafotiou, Giorgos Samantas and Konstantinos Kalantzis, Edited by Giorgos Samantas, Leonidas Papafotiou and Konstantinos Kalantzis, Sound Editing by Giorgos Samantas, Sound Mixing by Iason Theofanou, Music composed and performed by Konstantinos Kalantzis, Ethnography by Konstantinos Kalantzis (supported by the Koutroulou Magoula Archaeology and Archaeological Ethnography project), Subtitling by Konstantinos Kalantzis, Subtitling Consultant Paddy Baxter, Produced by Leonidas Papafotiou, Giorgos Samantas and Konstantinos Kalantzis. Greece 2014. [47 min].