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Teaching the film ONE TABLE TWO ELEPHANTS: A resource for online teaching about postcolonial ecologies and Southern urbanism

by Jacob von Heland and Henrik Ernstson, Co-directors of The Situated Ecologies Platform

We have made the film One Table Two Elephants (84 min, 2018) free for use and remixing, except for commercial purposes (CC-BY-NC). This website on our Situated Ecologies Platform provides a link to the full film as well as educational resources, key references, questions for students and reviews, and notes on cinematic ethnography and our trilogy of films on postcolonial ecologies. The website will be updated continuously with new materials as we ourselves—and hopefully you—share your teaching experiences with the film.

Filmed in Cape Town, One Table Two Elephants provides a textured and nuanced account of knowledge politics in a postcolonial city, which we have found translates well to many other places. It opens up important questions about nature, urbanization, class, race and the living remains of colonialism. The film deliberately does not tell an easy story, because that is now how things are. Instead we trust the audience to engage and make up their minds and feelings, reading it in diverse ways to engage with one another. Many students have found it intriguing and engaging.

We also believe the film can assist in developing ONLINE TEACHING in these times of COVID19. The film will suit the use of a “flipped classroom,” allowing students to watch the whole or parts of the film before class and read one or two texts, which we have suggested. This preparation provides conditions for a rich discussion. However, there are various other ways of using the film in teaching and learning and we hope you will share with us your teaching experience, either through an email to us, or by posting on social media with the following hashtag: #Teaching1T2E .

We especially thank Paul Munro and Jim Igoe for using the film in their courses on Political Ecology and Indigenous Landscapes/Anthropology, respectively. We also like to thank Sachiko Ishihara, Asma Mehan and Ruben Hordijk for engaging critically with the film in their own course work. We have learnt from these scholars and students.

LINK to #Teaching1T2E:

About the film: One Table Two Elephants (84 min, CPH:DOX, 2018) is a cinematic ethnography created by Jacob von Heland and Henrik Ernstson that deals with race, nature and knowledge politics in the postcolonial city (Official trailer). The film has been nominated to several prizes and screened at film festivals in Copenhagen, Cape Town, Tirana, Nijmegen and Stockholm.


Scholarly reference:

  • Heland, Jacob von, and Henrik Ernstson. 2018. One Table Two Elephants (84 minutes, cinematic ethnography, Color, HD, Dolby 5:1). World Premiere in Competition at CPH:DOX 2018, March 20. Published by The Situated Ecologies Platform (CC-BY-NC) at this fixed URL:
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