On The Road to Virtue : Meyer Brownstone and the Documentation of Human Development
thesisposted on 24.05.2021, 13:25 by Peter Conrad
On The Road To Virtue is a research project consisting of a thirty-minute documentary film and this supporting thesis paper. The entire project is built on the archival documentation of Meyer Brownstone from his visits to the Salvadoran refugee camps in Honduras in the 1980s. Through a cinematic examination of the visual and audio evidence, as well as Brownstone's commenting on it, we consider his memory of interacting with the refugees and contemplate their own efforts to retain agency in their lives. The film uses three primary vehicles — archival documentation, personal interviews, and enactments —to create a storytelling structure which encourages reflection on the direct testimony of the Salvadoran refugees and on Brownstone’s images, while assessing his evidentiary accounting of life in the refugee camps. The supporting paper and the film both reflect on his commitment to promoting human development in the camps and elsewhere, through the establishment of participatory democracy structures, the maintenance of sustainable living practices, and the insistence on free speech and movement. The film also conveys the fluid relationship between historical events and their contemporary remembrance while this thesis paper critically reflects on the implications of these ideas and the related artistic approaches used to present them in the film.