Using filmmaking to decolonise geography

Authors: Jessica Jacobs*, Queen Mary University of London
Topics: Cultural Geography, Ethnicity and Race, Geography Education
Keywords: decolonise, film, place-based, pandemic
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 37
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Filmmaking is a different form of knowledge production to text which puts film and filmmaking in geography in an interesting space where we can question how we produce knowledge in the first place, and how that knowledge is used to exert control. A geographical film is a film that explores people’s relationship to their environment, a film that is place-based, and where ‘place’, often dismissed as ‘background’ in other films, is treated like a character in its own right with agency and voice. (Jacobs and Palis, 2020) The form of knowledge it creates is diverse and often contested. In the social sciences it has been designated variously within the parameters pre-assigned by the history of filmmaking (e.g. documentary or edutainment), restricted to the category of a ‘visual’ method, assumed to be a form of visual text (e.g. visual essay), used as a form of description of human cultures (ethnography) or as a form of community engagement and activism (e.g. participatory video) (Jacobs 2015).

In this paper I will reflect on recent film and place based online projects in Cairo and the UK to explore the potential opportunities and challenges for film and filmmaking during a pandemic. I will argue that our growing dependency on virtual platforms, the rise of the voice of local narratives and the need for community engagement for authenticity means that certain kinds of filmmaking are well placed to help us decolonise the discipline of geography.

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