Click the star to add/remove an item to/from your individual schedule.
You need to be logged in to avail of this functionality.

Accepted Paper:

Feeling vulnerable in the field: collaborative filmmaking in the Niger Delta and the contestation of ethnographic ideals  
Julia Binter (University of Bonn)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses the potentials and limits of collaborative filmmaking in the context of the political economy of oil in Nigeria. It looks at shifting power relations in violence-ridden field sites and its impact on ethnographic ideals like the co-creation of knowledge.

Paper long abstract:

The Niger Delta is a highly politicized field scarred by interethnic rivalry and the unpredictable violence of youth militias. In order to conduct fieldwork on precolonial trade, cultural exchange and related forms of memory in the delta, I collaborated with a coastal community, the Itsekiri, on a film project about their history and cultural heritage. This paper discusses the potential and limits of our film project against the backdrop of the political economy of oil in Nigeria. It looks at the impact of power shifts and of divergent notions of historiography on ethnographic ideals like the polyphonic co-creation of knowledge. It shows that my embeddedness in the film team allowed me mobility and unique access to heritage sites in this highly volatile setting. However, my dependency on the Itsekiri film team and on the goodwill of my powerful hosts restricted the strata of people I was able to get in contact with. Moreover, my aim of speaking "alongside" or "nearby" my research partners was subverted by the interests of my film team. They envisioned me to be the protagonist of the film who "went on a journey to discover the Itsekiri" and showed her findings to the world. Hence, they wished to co-create exactly the "grand", "modern" narrative that I sought to avoid. This paper argues that my vulnerability as female researcher, my dependency on local hosts as well as differing notions of historiography severely tested the limits of collaborative fieldwork and the co-creation of knowledge.

Panel P053
The limits of collaboration
  Session 1