UCLA » College » Social Sciences » Anthropology
Faculty

Robert Lemelson


Associate Adjunct Professor


Contact Information

Email    lemelson@ucla.edu
Office  387 Haines Hall
Phone  310-454-5904
I am a psychological anthropologist who has worked in Southeast Asia, particularly on the islands of Bali and Java in Indonesia, for most of my career.

My work explores the relationship of culture and history to trauma, psychiatric illness, structural and gender-based violence, and their relationship to subjectivity and phenomenology.

I am also a visual anthropologist and ethnographic filmmaker with over twenty years of experience conducting fieldwork and producing longitudinal film studies. In 2007, I founded Elemental Productions, an ethnographic documentary film production company. I have completed over a dozen films on a wide range of topics including mental illness, polygamy and gender-based violence, the sex trade, genocide, kinship and ritual, and trance and possession.

I am president of the Foundation for Psychocultural Research, a Los Angeles-based philanthropic organization that focuses on the integration of the social sciences and neuroscience since 1999.

Profiles

Documentary Educational Resources

IMDB

 

Websites

Elemental Productions

The Foundation for Psychocultural Research

The Lemelson Foundation

The Robert Lemelson Foundation

 

 

Films Available

Documentary Educational Resources

Elemental Productions

Amazon

 

Films Released

Movements and Madness (2006)

40 Years of Silence: An Indonesian Tragedy (2008)

Afflictions: Culture and Mental Illness in Indonesia series (2010-2011)

Shadows & Illuminations (2010)

Family Victim (2010)

The Bird Dancer (2010)

Kites and Monsters (2011)

Memory of My Face (2011)

Ritual Burdens (2011) 

Jathilan (2011)

Standing on the Edge of a Thorn (2012)

Ngaben: Emotion & Restraint in a Balinese Heart (2012)

Bitter Honey (2015)

 

​Films In Production
Reflexivity (2016)
Sacrifice (2016)​

Degrees

M.A., University of Chicago (1987)
Ph.D., University of California Los Angeles (1999)

Awards

Distinguished Teaching Award, 2003

 

40 Years of Silence: An Indone­sian Tragedy

Win­ner, Award of Merit, Acco­lades Com­pe­ti­tion, 2009

Win­ner, Award of Excel­lence, Indie Fest, 2009

Nom­i­nee, Most Inno­v­a­tive Pro­duc­tion, His­tory Mak­ers Awards, New York, NY 2011

Win­ner, Best For­eign Fea­ture, Ore­gon Film Awards, 2012

Win­ner, Award of Excel­lence, Canada Inter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val, Van­cou­ver, BC, 2013

Nom­i­nee, Best Edit­ing in a Doc­u­men­tary Film, St. Tropez Inter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val, Nice, France, 2013

Win­ner, Best Asian Doc­u­men­tary, Endeav­ours Doc­u­men­tary Film Fes­ti­val, Sin­ga­pore, Sin­ga­pore, 2013

 

Afflic­tions: Cul­ture & Men­tal Ill­ness in Indonesia

Afflic­tions 2010 / Nom­i­nee, Best Lim­ited Series, Inter­na­tional Doc­u­men­tary Asso­ci­a­tion Awards, Los Ange­les, CA, 2010

Afflic­tions 2010 / Win­ner, Sil­ver Screen Award, Nevada Film Fes­ti­val, Las Vegas, NV, 2010

Afflic­tions 2010 / Win­ner, Cine Golden Eagle Award, 2011

Afflic­tions 2011 / Win­ner, Award of Excel­lence, The Indie Fest, 2011

The Bird Dancer / Win­ner, Award of Excel­lence, Best Shorts Com­pe­ti­tion, 2011

Afflic­tions 2010 / Win­ner, Spe­cial Jury Prize, Cal­i­for­nia Film Awards, San Diego, CA, 2012

Afflic­tions 2010 / Win­ner, Award of Excel­lence, Acco­lades Film, Tele­vi­sion, New Media and Videog­ra­phy Awards, Los Ange­les, CA, 2012

Shad­ows and Illu­mi­na­tions / Win­ner, Award of Excel­lence, Best Shorts Com­pe­ti­tion, La Jolla, CA, 2012

Rit­ual Bur­dens / Win­ner, Bronze Award for Short Doc­u­men­tary, Pres­tige Film Awards, 2012

Afflic­tions 2011 / Semi-Finalist, Moon­dance Film Fes­ti­val, Boul­der, CO, 2012

Kites and Mon­sters / Win­ner, 2nd Place Short Doc­u­men­tary Com­pe­ti­tion, “Best Edit­ing,” “Best Sound Design,” Los Ange­les New Wave Film Fes­ti­val, Los Ange­les, CA, 2013

Afflic­tions 2010 / Win­ner, Spe­cial Jury Prize, Cal­i­for­nia Film Awards, San Diego, CA, 2013

Shad­ows and Illu­mi­na­tions / Hon­or­able Men­tion, Sun­set Film Fes­ti­val, Los Ange­les, CA, 2013

Afflic­tions 2010 / Win­ner, Award of Excel­lence, Inter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val for Peace, Inspi­ra­tion and Equal­ity, Jakarta, Indone­sia, 2013

 

Jathi­lan: Trance and Pos­ses­sion in Java

N/A

 

Ngaben: Emo­tion & Restraint in a Bali­nese Heart

Win­ner, Hon­or­able Men­tion for Doc­u­men­tary Short, Inter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val for Peace, Inspi­ra­tion and Equal­ity, Jakarta Indone­sia, 2013

 

Stand­ing on the Edge of a Thorn

Nom­i­nee, Best Documentary-style Real­ity Pro­duc­tion, Impact Media Awards, New York, NY, 2013

Win­ner, Stu­dent Choice Award, Frozen River Film Fes­ti­val, Winona, MI 2014

 

Festivals

40 Years of Silence: An Indone­sian Tragedy

Boston Inter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val, Boston, Mass­a­chu­setts, 2009

Amnesty Inter­na­tional “Films That Mat­ter,” Ams­ter­dam, Nether­lands, 2009

Glo­bians World + Cul­ture Doc­u­men­tary Film Fes­ti­val, Berlin, Ger­many, 2009

Inter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val of Thai­land, Phuket, Thai­land, 2009

Tai­wan Inter­na­tional Doc­u­men­tary Film Fes­ti­val, Taipei, Tai­wan, 2010

XIX Inter­na­tional Fes­ti­val of Eth­no­log­i­cal Film, Bel­grade, Ser­bia, 2010

Psy­chocin­ema Fes­ti­val, Jakarta, Indone­sia, 2010

Kingston New York Film Fes­ti­val, New York, New York, 2012

Inter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val for Peace, Inspi­ra­tion and Equal­ity, Jakarta, Indone­sia, 2012

Win­ner, Award of Excel­lence, Canada Inter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val, Van­cou­ver, BC, Canada, 2013

Nom­i­nee, Best Edit­ing in a Doc­u­men­tary Film, St Tropez Inter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­vals, Nice, France, 2013

Win­ner, Best Asian Doc­u­men­tary, Endeav­ours Doc­u­men­tary Film Fes­ti­val, Sin­ga­pore, Sin­ga­pore, 2013

 

Afflic­tions: Cul­ture & Men­tal Ill­ness in Indonesia

Afflic­tions 2010 / Win­ner, Sil­ver Screen Award, Nevada Film Fes­ti­val, Las Vegas, NV, 2010

Afflic­tions 2010 / Gig Har­bor Film Fes­ti­val, Gig Har­bor, WA, 2010

Afflic­tions 2010 / Soci­ety for Visual Anthro­pol­ogy Media Fes­ti­val, New Orleans, LA, 2010

Afflic­tions 2010 / Fin­ger Lakes Envi­ron­men­tal Film Fes­ti­val, Ithaca, NY, 2011

Afflic­tions 2010 / Glo­bians world+culture Doc­u­men­tary Film Fes­ti­val, Berlin, Ger­many, 2011

Afflic­tions 2010 / Tai­wan Inter­na­tional Ethno­graphic Film Fes­ti­val, Taipei, Tai­wan, 2011

Afflic­tions 2010 / Soci­ety for Visual Anthro­pol­ogy Media Fes­ti­val, New Orleans, LA, 2011

Afflic­tions 2011 / Third World Indie Film Fes­ti­val, Mil­pi­tas, CA, 2011

Shad­ows and Illu­mi­na­tions. Jean Rouch Inter­na­tional Ethno­graphic Film Fes­ti­val, Paris, France, 2011

Afflic­tions 2011 / Cinesol Film Fes­ti­val, Har­lin­gen, TX, 2012

Afflic­tions 2011 / Moon­dance Film Fes­ti­val, Boul­der, CO, 2012

Shad­ows and Ill­lu­mi­na­tions / Los Ange­les Inter­na­tional Under­ground Film Fes­ti­val, Los Ange­les, CA, 2012

Shad­ows and Illu­mi­na­tions / Rich­mond Inter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val, Rich­mond, VA.

Afflic­tions 2010 / Aware­ness Film Fes­ti­val, Los Ange­les, CA, 2012

Afflic­tions 2010 / Cincin­nati Film Fes­ti­val, Cincin­nati, OH, 2012

Afflic­tions 2011 / Cinesol Film Fes­ti­val, Har­lin­gen, TX, 2012

Afflic­tions 2011 / Semi-Finalist, Moon­dance Film Fes­ti­val, Boul­der, CO, 2012

Shad­ows and Illu­mi­na­tions / Win­ner, Best Doc­u­men­tary Fea­ture, Los Ange­les Inter­na­tional Under­ground Film Fes­ti­val, Los Ange­les, CA, 2012

Shad­ows and Illu­mi­na­tions / Win­ner, 1st Place Doc­u­men­tary Fea­ture, Los Ange­les Reel Film Fes­ti­val, Los Ange­les, CA, 2012

Shad­ows and Illu­mi­na­tions / Nom­i­nee, Hon­or­able Men­tion, Rich­mond Inter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val, Rich­mond, VA, 2012

Fam­ily Vic­tim / Sun & Sand Film Fes­ti­val, Biloxi, MS, 2012

The Bird Dancer / Off­shoot Film Fes­ti­val, Fayet­teville, AK, 2012

Kites and Mon­sters / World­Kids Inter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val, Mum­bai, India, 2012

Mem­ory of My Face / San Fran­cisco Shorts Film Fes­ti­val, San Fran­cisco, CA, 2012

Mem­ory of My Face / Spe­cial Men­tion, Caserta Ethno­graphic Film Fes­ti­val, Caserta, Italy, 2012

Shad­ows and Illu­mi­na­tions / Win­ner, Award of Excel­lence, Best Shorts Com­pe­ti­tion, La Jolla, CA, 2012

Rit­ual Bur­dens / Win­ner, Bronze Award for Short Doc­u­men­tary, Pres­tige Film Awards, 2012

Mem­ory of My Face / North­ern Cal­i­for­nia Inter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val, Modesto, CA, 2013

The Bird Dancer / Fall­brook Film Fes­ti­val, Fall­brook, CA 2013

Kites and Mon­sters / Win­ner, 2nd Place Short Doc­u­men­tary Com­pe­ti­tion, “Best Edit­ing”, “Best Sound Design”, Los Ange­les New Wave Film Fes­ti­val, Los Ange­les, CA 2013

Kites and Mon­sters / Hum­boldt Film Fes­ti­val, Hum­boldt, CA 2013

Mem­ory of My Face / Amoroso Teatro Film Fes­ti­val, Italy, 2013

Afflic­tions 2010 / Win­ner, Spe­cial Jury Prize, Cal­i­for­nia Film Awards, San Diego, CA, 2013

Shad­ows and Illu­mi­na­tions / Hon­or­able Men­tion, Sun­set Film Fes­ti­val, Los Ange­les, CA, 2013

Afflic­tions 2010 / Win­ner, Award of Excel­lence, Inter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val for Peace, Inspi­ra­tion and Equal­ity, Jakarta, Indone­sia, 2013

Memory of My Face, Aceh Documentary Film Festival, Aceh, Indonesia, 2015

 

 

Jathi­lan: Trance and Pos­ses­sion in Java

Parnu Inter­na­tional Doc­u­men­tary and Anthro­pol­ogy Film Fes­ti­val, Parnu, Esto­nia, 2012

Days of Ethno­graphic Cin­ema, Ljubli­jana, Rus­sia, 2012

Inter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val of Cin­e­matic Arts (Shorts and Micro Cin­ema) Los Ange­les, Los Ange­les, CA, 2012

Sun­screen Film Fes­ti­val, St. Peters­burg, Florida, 2013

 

Ngaben: Emo­tion & Restraint in a Bali­nese Heart

Sara­sota Film Fes­ti­val, Sara­sota, Florida, 2013

Russ­ian Anthro­po­log­i­cal Film Fes­ti­val, Eka­ter­in­burg, Rus­sia, 2013

Win­ner, Hon­or­able Men­tion for Doc­u­men­tary Short, Inter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val for Envi­ron­ment, Health and Cul­ture, Jakarta, Indone­sia, 2013

Fes­ti­val Inter­na­tional du Film Ethno­graphique du Que­bec (FIFEQ), Que­bec, Canada, 2014

Ethno­grafilm, Paris, France, 2014

Frozen River Film Fes­ti­val, Winona, MI, 2014

Eth­nocineca Ethno­graphic and Doc­u­men­tary Film­Fest Vienna, Vienna, Italy, 2014

Espiello Inter­na­tional Ethno­graphic and Doc­u­men­tary Film Fes­ti­val of Sobrarbe, Aragon, Spain, 2014

Inter­na­tional Fes­ti­val of Etho­log­i­cal Film Bel­grade, Bel­grade, Ser­bia, 2014

Rural Route Film Festival, New York, 2014

 

Stand­ing on the Edge of a Thorn

New­port Beach Film Fes­ti­val, New­port, CA, 2013

10th “Eyes and Lenses” Ethno­graphic Film Review, War­saw, Poland, 2013

Parnu Inter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val, Parnu, Esto­nia, 2013

United Nations Asso­ci­a­tion Film Fes­ti­val, Stan­ford, CA, 2013

Aper­ture Asia Pacific Inter­na­tional Ethno­graphic Doc­u­men­tary Film Fes­ti­val, Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia, 2013

Ethno­grafilm, Paris, France, 2014

Frozen River Film Fes­ti­val, Winona, MI, 2014

6th International Festival of Anthropology Film Festival, Vancouver, BC, Canada, 2014

 

Bitter Honey

Days of Ethnographic Film, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2015

FIFEQ, Montreal, Quebec, 2015

AAS Film Expo, Chicago, 2015

ETNOFILM, Croatia, 2015

RAI International Festival of Ethnographic Film, Bristol, UK, 2015

Taiwan International Ethnographic Film Festival, Taipei, Taiwan, 2015

Tiburon Film Society, Sausalito, CA, 2015

RAI International Festival of Ethnographic Film at USC, Los Angeles, USA, 2016

Selected Publications

“Fear and Silence in Burma and Indonesia: Comparing Two National Tragedies and Two Individual Outcomes of Trauma” by Lemelson, R., and Thein-Lemelson, S. in Ataria, Y., Gurevitz, D., Pedaya, H., and Neria, Y. eds. in Interdisciplinary Handbook of Trauma and Culture. 2016.

“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. 

“Integrating Psychological and Visual Anthropology: Issues Raised in the Production of the Film Series Afflictions: Culture and Mental Illness in Indonesia” by Lemelson, R., and Tucker, A., in Ethos Journal: Volume 43, Issue 1, 6-39. 2015.

"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. in 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. eds. in 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. in Psychiatrists and Traditional Healers: Unwitting Partners in Global Mental Health. London, UK: John Wiley & Sons. 2008. 

"Epilogue: Trauma and the Vicissitudes of Interdisciplinary Integration" by Kirmayer, L, Lemelson, R., Barad, M. in Kirmayer, L, Lemelson, R., Barad, M. eds. in Understanding Trauma: Integrating Cultural, Psychological and Biological Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University. 2007. 

"Understanding Trauma: Integrating Cultural, Psychological and Biological Perspectives" by Kirmayer, L, Lemelson, R., Barad, M. eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2007.

"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.

"Cultural Formulation of Psychiatric Diagnoses: The Spirits, Penyakit Ngeb and the Social Suppression of Memory: A Complex Clinical Case from Bali" in Lemelson R, Suryani L.K. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry. 30(3): 389-413. 2006. 

"Traditional Healing and it's Discontents: Efficacy and Traditional Therapies of Neuropsychiatric Disorders in Bali” by Lemelson R. in Medical Anthropology Quarterly 18(1): 48-76. 2004.

"Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Bali: The Cultural Shaping of a Neuropsychiatric Disorder" by Lemelson, R. in Transcultural Psychiatry. 4(30) 377-408. 2003.

"Strange Maladies" by Lemelson, R. in Psychology Today. December 2001.

Research

Transcultural psychiatry, ethnographic film, Indonesia (Bali, Java), mental illness, traditional healing, trauma and social violence, neuroanthropology