Alison Kahn

Dr. Alison Kahn is an anthropologist/filmmaker and lecturer in Film Production at Oxford Brookes University.  She  is director of The Oxford Academy of Documentary Film and Academic Visitor at the University of Oxford.

Her most recent project, Captured by Women, is a one-hour documentary in four parts that focuses on film footage by two British women in the 1930s, in the film collections of the Pitt Rivers Museum. The film uses the notion of magical transformation as a part of cultural translation through film to lead the viewer from the Pitt Rivers Museum’s displays and the objects collected by both women, to their photographs, and finally the original film footage.

Her first association with a feature documentary has been acclaimed in the US. This film, ASK NOT directed by Johnny Symons is about gay rights in the US military and challenges the US policy called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Alison’s three-part series on Tribal Rites was commissioned by Discovery Channel USA in 2003 and broadcast the following year. Alison worked as its assistant producer and assistant director.

Alison is the author of the book The Pope’s Curator: Anthropology and the Catholic Church, to be published by Berghahn Books in 2010, and is presently working on her second book Traditions in Jeopardy: Reflections on the Digital Era.


The 1970s – the last pre-computer decade, is a mental and physical landscape that is fast disappearing, and for those who have not entered the digital world of today, it is a place that has been replaced by social and technological agencies that are difficult to negotiate.

OUR HERITAGE- OUR MEMORIES- OUR LIVES is a scheme that seeks to share our national heritage film/photograph/object archives with the elderly (50+ age group) to record their memories about footage, photography and objects connected to the 70s

This will be done to aid self-empowerment of the older individual and to give confidence when confronted with ICT- thus with a little guidance, our ageing community, who often live outside the vast and intimidating world we call ‘digital space’, will begin to find and carve a place of their own and reaffirm the value of their past.

We aim to digitize film, photography and objects from this period to create a virtual living space in order to allow access to this material for generations to come. In addition, by including those who experienced the 1970s in the creation of this project will improve public engagement with this culturally very important era.

This project will have the different publics to decide what needs to be preserved (e.g. like the National Treasures Show where the public decides in a similar way on what to preserve using limited funding).

This heritage project will be partnered with AgeUK and other ageing charities and also several public and broadcast archives. The specialist department the Universities of Sussex and Oxford Brookes will be involved in its realization.

It could continually develop by the elderly contributing to the online archive and become a valuable resource for current and future generations.