Robert Lemelson is a cultural anthropologist, ethnographic filmmaker and philanthropist. Lemelson received his M.A. from the University of Chicago and Ph.D. from the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Lemelson's area of specialty is transcultural psychiatry; Southeast Asian Studies, particularly Indonesia; and psychological and medical anthropology. He currently is a research anthropologist in the Semel Institute of Neuroscience UCLA, and an adjunct professor of Anthropology at UCLA. His scholarly work has appeared in numerous journals and books. Lemelson founded Elemental Productions in 2008, a documentary production company, and has directed and produced numerous ethnographic films. His blog Psychocultural Cinema contains numerous blog-posts and edited film works.
Lemelson also is involved in a number of philanthropic ventures. He is the president of The Foundation for Psychocultural Research, a research foundation that supports work integrating the social and neurosciences. He also acts a director for The Lemelson Foundation, a foundation started by his late father Jerome Lemelson to support inventors, invention and innovation in the United States and the developing world. Lemelson has also funded a number of programs supporting scholarship and research in Anthropology through the Robert Lemelson Foundation, which is a separate foundation from The Lemelson Foundation. These include Lemelson Anthropological Scholars program at UCLA, and the Lemelson-SPA conference fund and the Lemelson-SPA student fellows program administered by the Society for Psychological Anthropology. In addition, he helped create and fund the first program on Indonesian studies in thirty years, located in the International Institute at UCLA.
|Film Title||Type||Release Date||Short Synopsis||TRT|
|Tajen||Documentary short||2016||Tajen is a sensory ethnography exploring multiple elements of the Balinese cockfight.||29 min|
|Bitter Honey||Documentary Feature||2015||Bitter Honey chronicles the lives of three polygamous families living in Bali, Indonesia. The film follows the wives from their introduction to the polygamous lifestyle to the emotional hardships and jealousies to their struggle for empowerment and equal rights.||81 min|
|Standing of the Edge of a Thorn||Documentary short||2013||Standing on the Edge of a Thorn is an intimate portrait of a family in rural Central Java, Indonesia grappling with poverty, mental illness, and participation in the sex trade.||33 min|
|Jathilan: Trance and Possession in Java||Documentary Short||2012||Jathilan:Trance and possession in Java is a film about Jathilan, a folk dance practiced for centuries in Java that uses the power of music and dance to channel powerful and sometimes terrifying forces.||27 min|
|Ngaben: Emotion and Restraint in a Balinese Heart||Documentary Short||2012||Ngaben:Emotion and Restraint in a Balinese Heart is a film about the famous Balinese funerary ritual called Ngaben. The film takes an impressionistic look at this practice from the perspective of a mourning son and reveals the intimacy, sadness, and tenderness at the core of this funerary ritual and the feeling and force that underlie an exquisite cultural tradition.||27 min|
|Memory of My Face||Documentary Short||2011||Memory of my Face is part of the documentary series Afflictions: Culture and Mental Illness in Indonesia- Volume 1, Psychotic Disorders . The film follows Bambang Rudjito and illustrates how the residues of colonialism and the pervasive influence of globalization affects the subjective experience of mental illness.||22 min|
|Ritual Burdens||Documentary Short||2011||Ritual Burdens is part of the documentary series Afflictions: Culture and Mental Illness in Indonesia- Volume 1, Psychotic Disorders. The film follows Ni Ketut Kasih and questions how communal spiritual obligations may be folded into personal schemas of stress to trigger episodes of mental illness ||25 min|
|Kites and Monsters||Documentary Short||2011||Kites and Monsters is part of the documentary series Afflictions: Culture and Mental Illness in Indonesia- Volume 2, Neuropsychiatric Disorders. The film follows Wayan Yoga from boyhood to manhood and discovers the influential and protective aspects of culture that may guide developmental neuropsychiatric processes.||22 min|
|Shadows and Illuminations||Documentary Short||2010||Shadows and Illuminations is part of the documentary series Afflictions: Culture and Mental Illness in Indonesia- Volume 1, Psychotic Disorders. The film follows Nyoman Kereta and explores how non-normative mental events and behavior, including auditory and visual hallucinations, can be understood or interpreted in multiple ways outside the confines of western psychiatric diagnosis.||35 min|
|The Bird Dancer||Documentary Short||2010||The Bird Dancer is part of the documentary series Afflictions: Culture and Mental Illness in Indonesia- Volume 2, Neuropsychiatric Disorders. The film follows Gusti Ayu Suartini and focuses on the social stigma of neuropsychiatric disorder and the human suffering it entails.||40 min|
|Family Victim||Documentary Short||2010||Family Victim is part of the documentary series Afflictions: Culture and Mental Illness in Indonesia- Volume 2, Neuropsychiatric Disorders. The film follows Estu Wardhani and examines the bi-directional influences between an individual considered to have a disruptive or troublesome personality and his social world.||38 min|
|40 Years of Silence: An Indonesian Tragedy||Documentary Feature||2009||40 Years of Silence: An Indonesian Tragedy is the first documentary to explore the personal effects of the mass killings 500,000 to over a million people in Indonesia in 1965-66. The film follows the testimonies of four individuals and their families as they break their silence for the first time.||96 min|
|Movements and Madness||Documentary feature||2006||Movements and Madness: Gusti Ayu tells the story of an anthropologists search to understand a person with a severe neuropsychiatric disorder in rural Indonesia, and the ethical dilemmas involved when a research scientist attempts to aid his subject.||71 min|
Select Journal Articles
- "Steps Toward an Integration of Psychological and Visual Anthropology: Issues Raised in the Production of the Film Series Afflictions: Culture and Mental Illness in Indonesia". Lemelson R., Tucker, A. Ethos 43(1): 6-39, 2015
- "Cultural Formulation of Psychiatric Diagnoses: The Spirits, Penyakit Ngeb and the Social Suppression of Memory: A Complex Clinical Case from Bali". Lemelson R, Suryani L.K. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry. 30(3): 389-413, 2006
- "Traditional Healing and its Discontents: Efficacy and Traditional Therapies of Neuropsychiatric Disorders in Bali". Lemelson R. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 18(1): 48-76, 2004
- "Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Bali: The Cultural Shaping of a Neuropsychiatric Disorder." Lemelson, R. Transcultural Psychiatry. 4(30) 377-408, 2003
Select Book Chapters
- "Afflictions: Psychopathology and Recovery in a Cultural Context" by Lemelson, R., and Tucker, A., in Kirmayer, L., Lemelson, R., and Cummings, C. eds. in Revisioning psychiatry: Cultural Phenomenology, Critical Neuroscience and Global Mental Health. 483-514. 2015.
- "Fear and Silence in Burma and Indonesia: Comparing Two National Tragedies and Two Individual Outcomes of Trauma" by Lemelson, R., Thein-Lemelson, S. in Ataria, Y., Gurevitz, D., Pedaya, H., and Neria, Y. eds. in Interdisciplinary Handbook of Trauma and Culture. 2016.
- "Anak PKI!: Multigenerational Trauma in a Javanese boy" by Lemelson, R., Ng, Emily and Supartini, N. in Worthman, C., Plotsky, P., Schecter, D. and Cummings C. Formative Experiences: The Interaction of Caregiving, Culture, and Developmental Psychobiology Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010
- "Children and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder" by Lemelson, R. in Shweder, R. et al. Ed. Chicago Companion to the Child. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.
- "Neuropsychiatric Disorders and Traditional Healing in Indonesia: The Question of Efficacy" by Lemelson, R. in Maldonado, M. ed. Psychiatrists and Traditional Healers: Unwitting Partners in Global Mental Health. London, UK: John Wiley & Sons, 2008.
- "Trauma in Context: Integrating Biological, Clinical and Cultural Perspectives" by Lemelson, R., Kirmayer, L, Barad, M. in Kirmayer, L, Lemelson, R., Barad, M. eds. Understanding Trauma: Integrating Cultural, Psychological and Biological Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
- "Epilogue: Trauma and the Vicissitudes of Interdisciplinary Integration" by Kirmayer, L, Lemelson, R., Barad, M. in Kirmayer, L, Lemelson, R., Barad, M. eds. Understanding Trauma: Integrating Cultural, Psychological and Biological Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University, 2007
- "Understanding Trauma: Integrating Cultural, Psychological and Biological Perspectives". Kirmayer, L, Lemelson, R., Barad, M. eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
- "Re-Visioning Psychiatry: Cultural Phenomenology, Critical Neuroscience and Global Mental Health ". Kirmayer, L, Lemelson, R., Cummings,C. eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.
Shadows and Illuminations: A Multi-touch Film Guide || E-book || 2015 || Shadows and Illuminations: A Multi-touch Film Guide is a multimedia eBook study guide and documentary film available on the iTunes platform. The book integrates the complete film Shadows and Illuminations as well as a film guide that explores historical, clinical, cinematic and cultural material at the intersection of medical, visual and psychological anthropology.
- New York Times review of "Bitter Honey"
- Inside Indonesia film Review of "Bitter Honey"
- Somatosphere article "The Afflictions Series: An interview with ethnographic Filmmaker Robert Lemelson"
- Neuroanthropology analysis of Tourette's Syndrome and "The Bird Dancer"
- UCLA Today-10 Questions for Robert Lemelson
- The Harvard Crimson, "Breaking from the 'Silence'"
- Jakarta Globe, "Breaking the 40-Year Silence About the Anti-Communist Purge"
- Voice of America Interview with Director Robert Lemelson
- Jakarta Globe, "1965 Mass Killings Erased From History, Scholars Say"
- Jakarta Globe, "1965: Giving Voice to the Silenced Past"
- "Strange Maladies". Lemelson, R. December 2001 Psychology Today
- Robert Lemelson on Internet Movie Database
- 40 Years of Silence: An Indonesian Tragedy (Official Website)
- Afflictions: Culture & Mental Illness in Indonesia Film Series (Official Website)
- Jathilan: Trance and Possession in Java (Official Website)
- Documentary Educational Resources (Educational Distributor's Website)
- UCLA Department of Anthropology faculty page
- The Foundation for Psychocultural Research
- / Kanopy Streaming site