Scrimshaw: a Whaling Story


Scrimshaw: a Whaling Story is Everyday Anthropology’s current major documentary project. Exploring the cultural significance of the whaling era, Scrimshaw is an in-depth look at colonialism, industrialization, cultural values and identities,  the emergence of the modern city, and the environmental impacts of industrial hunting and fishing practices. It was put on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions and the simple inability to conduct research at the level required to complete this project. However, as of spring 2023, it’s back on!

Looking back in time through historical documentation, interviews, and through the lens of art, Scrimshaw illustrates the cultural relevance and immediacy of centuries-old issues, connecting viewers with a not-so-bygone era.

The film is currently in production and is slated to be completed and released by Fall 2020.

This page will have all updates and behind-the-scenes glimpses of the project in production.

In September 2019 I met with scrimshander Jade Gotauco, who spoke about her art and the materials with which she works–some of which have been passed down in her family for generations. As one of very few scrimshanders who works with certified pre-ban ivory, Jade is one of the few left in the world who practices this art form legally on traditional materials.

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Filming as I walk along the enormous panoramic painting depicting the history of whaling. This panorama is kept by the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

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Reading through historical documents at the Rhode Island Historical Society

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The pier in New Bedford from about 200 feet up

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National Park Ranger Andrew Schnetzer talking about the history of whaling in New England

Here is an unedited clip from my interview with Dr. Akeia Benard, the Curator of Social History at the New Bedford Whaling museum.

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