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Accepted Paper:

Suspended refuge. Visual and ethnographic insights from as refugee camp  

Author:

Pedro F. Neto (ICS-Universidade de Lisboa)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses an authored video-essay addressing the uncertain plight of a refugee camp and of its inhabitants. With ethical dilemmas and academic constraints in mind, it further inquires how theoretical concepts can be rendered intelligible through cinematic stylistic features and techniques

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores the possibilities of film in depicting the present and future of a refugee camp and of its dwellers. It will examine the uncertain plight of the Meheba Refugee Camp (Zambia), as well as the expectations and hopes of those who inhabit it. Endlessly stuck in the emergency, this condition evokes a future that is always yet to come. The camp is a place of suspended time.

The paper will also address the ethical dilemmas and academic constraints encountered while conducting fieldwork and seeking to depict contexts of vulnerability. How to restore the dignity and move beyond stereotypical representations of disenfranchised populations is key in such endeavor. The presentation will further inquire how theoretical concepts can be rendered intelligible through cinematic stylistic features and techniques. The screening of short clips from an authored video-essay - "Withering Refuge", will motivate the discussion.

"Withering Refuge" is an audiovisual essay crafted with photographs, audio and film clips collected in three different periods of fieldwork in Zambia, using different devices (mobile phone, digital photo camera, video camera, 35mm photo-camera) and includes voice-over narration. The narrator embodies a fictive Angolan refugee whose voice conducts the viewer through the spaces, expectations and challenges of many of those affected by forced displacement, environmental change, developmental and extractive endeavors. The narration condenses the views and testimonies shared by many of my interlocutors in and around the camp.

Panel P121
Filming Futures: ethnographic film and future-making in critical contexts [FAN and VANEASA]