Accepted paper:

Experience report and critical reflection of the film "The Book of the Senegalese Village Guelakh" (2019) which resulted from an ethnological collaborative approach


Stephanie Boye (University of Zurich)

Paper short abstract:

Experience report and critical reflection of the film "The Book of the Senegalese Village Guelakh" (2019) resulting from an ethnological collaborative approach. The topics of collaboration, (re)presentation and multi-purpose reception are at the centre of interest.

Paper long abstract:

Can we write both for a Senegalese village and for ethnology/anthropology? Fatou asked me to write a book about her Senegalese Village Guelakh. Placing the writing of the book in a scientific context, I focused on the ethnological topics of "collaboration", "visual anthropology", "ethnography, poetics and aesthetics" and "representation". The community approach was at the centre of interest and thus the polyphony and multilingualism of the village Guelakh. The only way to (re)present this "reality" seemed to be to make the book a film. The villagers tell of the traditional life as Peulh nomads, now abandoned due to the advancing desert. Two men from the village of Guelakh set up a development project 27 years ago to ensure survival in this arid region. 4 years ago, a French agricultural company has been set up next to the village and some inhabitants have abandoned the village project to work in this company as day labourers. The film offers a framework for the voices of experts. We renounced on a voice "off" that explains or interprets. The villagers are the experts and tell according to their individual points of view. The film narration follows the villagers' instructions made during a visualization session of the filmed material. The Book of the Senegalese Village Guelakh is an ethnographic audio-visual document (70 min., with French and German subtitles); a panoply of individual and heterogeneous narrations containing fragmented and even contradictory elements. The villagers allowed me to publish the film.

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