Participatory vision: watching movies with Yolngu

Deger, Jennifer (2011) Participatory vision: watching movies with Yolngu. In: Nightingale, Virginia, (ed.) The Handbook of Media Audiences. Global Handbooks in Media and Communication Research . Wiley-Blackwell, London, UK, pp. 459-471.

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[Extract] This chapter is about tracking culture through the affective processes, and imaginative dynamics, of watching films. It's about how I have used my senses in the work of audience research, instead of relying solely on talk and exegesis - an approach that's harder than it sounds, especially when trying to apprehend the ways people from a very different cultural lifeworld uses televised stories from distant places to make sense of their own lives.

Over the past 15 years, I've worked in with Aboriginal people in northern Australia as media trainer, collaborator, and ethnographer. Like so many Aboriginal communities across the country, Gapuwiyak (the settlement of about 900 people where I spend most of my time) has increasingly become a place of suffering and struggle. Poverty, illness, boredom, widening intergenerational gaps, premature death and suicide, unemployment, and the repeated failures and blunt intrusions of state policies - all have incrementally taken their toll, undoing certainties and unmooring purpose. Yet even as disappointment, frustration, and fury ripple under the surface of the everyday, local languages and ceremonies remain strong - defiantly so - especially in comparison to many other parts of indigenous Australia. What strikes me constantly about this cultural context is the way in which the work of imagination buoys, propels, and sustains the social. Both within and beyond the ceremony ground, Yolngu animate ancestral events and mythic relations with a playful imaginative vitality that can imbue even the most apparently everyday or incidental events with layers of potential meaning and significance.

Such generative moments of creativity and world making also inflect the ways Yolngu watch movies.1

Item ID: 32204
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-1-4051-8418-2
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2014 01:25
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1601 Anthropology > 160104 Social and Cultural Anthropology @ 50%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1699 Other Studies in Human Society > 169902 Studies of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Society @ 50%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950205 Visual Communication @ 50%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950201 Communication Across Languages and Culture @ 50%
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