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    Docudrama and the agential child: treading a path between melodrama and National Geographic

    Wells, Karen (2023) Docudrama and the agential child: treading a path between melodrama and National Geographic. Sociology Lens , ISSN 2832-5796. (Submitted)

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    In Visual Cultures of Childhood, I argued that the child in social reform visual media, regardless of its form and the context of production or reception, rarely escapes representation as a melodramatic figure of innocent suffering who it is incumbent on the spectator to rescue, figuratively or literally (Wells 2020). This paper describes the making of a documentary film about children’s learning cultures in West Africa to show that it is possible to escape the melodramatic gaze through deploying specific shooting, editorial and screening choices that represent children as active, knowledgeable subjects situated in a specific cultural milieu. It also discusses the legacy of ethnographic film, especially in relation to Africa, which in its aim at cultural translation presumes a non-local spectator and deploys what has been called an entomological gaze; glossed here as ‘national geographic’ and proposes that key to disavowing that legacy is making film for African audiences.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): West Africa, film, childhood, crafting, learning
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences
    Depositing User: Karen Wells
    Date Deposited: 26 Jan 2024 16:47
    Last Modified: 26 Feb 2024 01:10


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