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Accepted Paper:

Making Sense: Participatory filmmaking with adult children of the disappeared in the Gambia  
Aminata Ndow (Harvard University)

Paper short abstract:

The paper aims to offer some reflections on the use of a participatory video methodology with now-adult children of the disappeared in the Gambia to examine how, in the "post-truth commission era,” they deal with the ramifications of their violent past.

Paper long abstract:

In 1994, Lieutenant Yahya Jammeh staged a coup d'état in the Gambia, a small West African country of two million inhabitants, where his regime, for over 20 years, maintained power through murder, rape, torture, and enforced disappearances of dissidents and opponents. After Jammeh was forced from power in 2017, the subsequent president established a truth commission (TRRC) to investigate Jammeh's human rights abuses. Since the TRRC released its Final Report (2021) however, few of the commission’s recommendations have been implemented. Through collaborative ethnographic research involving in-person semi-structured interviews, participant observation, participatory video, and online ethnography, I explore the lifeworlds of now-adult children of the disappeared to understand the social processes and practices through which their loss and mourning are made real and meaningful in subjective and collective terms, and how building their lives in the longer-term, they engage with the broader international movement to recover the disappeared. In this paper, I describe in detail the making of two films, focusing on ethical dilemmas. Researching childhood memories, perceptions, and experiences is significant, but so is the context in which these experiences occurred and their meaning for the different parties involved. What happens when making sense suddenly becomes making sense? Merging ideas taken from Participatory Action Research, visual anthropology, and hermeneutic phenomenological research, my approach explores how participatory filmmaking as a way of knowing can be especially well suited to access grief that is socially silenced and as such, to study mourning (in absence).

Panel P10
Multimodality, Collaboration and Co-curation as Critical Anthropological Pedagogy
  Session 1 Thursday 27 June, 2024, -