Feeling and Acting ‘Different': The Role of ‘Affect' in Indigenous Facilitators' Film-Making

Monday, July 14, 2014: 3:30 PM
Room: 417
Oral Presentation
Elisa BIGNANTE , Inter-university Department of Regional and Urban Development and Planning, University of Torino, Torino, Italy
Andrea BERARDI , Communication and Systems, England
Céline TSCHIRHART , Royal Holloway, University of London, England
Jay MISTRY , Department of Geography, Royal Holloway University of London, England
Participatory video can raise new levels of self-perception and can contribute to forming, transforming and reconstructing the identity of those involved (Bloustien, 2012; Luttrell, Restler and Fontaine, 2012). What emotions, in particular, are provoked by facilitating a PV project in one’s own community?

This paper draws on empirical materials (videos and photostories, interviews, informal conversations, participant observation, email exchanges) collected within the ongoing Project COBRA (http://projectcobra.org/). Five indigenous facilitators have been hired on a 3 years contract to help their communities in Guyana to identify 'community owned' indicators of sustainability through the use of PV. Work with facilitators has repeatedly highlighted emotional issues: pride, satisfaction, strong commitment, but also anxiety, fear of gossipy disapproval, sense of social pressure and fear of community jealousy, suspicion or stigma. These emotional states can be understood in the light of the multiple identities which being part of a PV project can engender. Being paid a salary for promoting community participation, being trained in using advanced and unfamiliar technologies, having access to transportation and fancy communication tools, as well as having to engage with a new, abstract, foreign language through the project theoretical frameworks can make facilitators to be perceived (and perceive themselves) as “insiders and yet outsiders” in their own communities. This has the potential to introduce an emotional distance between themselves and their family, friends and neighbors, and can lead them to conceal certain aspects of their emotionality.

The paper analyzes diversity of emotional states of the five COBRA facilitators, and how they are tied into a variety of relations, practices and exchanges, and bound to the micro-dynamics of community life. In so doing we investigate the distinctive ‘emotional terrains’ within which these facilitating experiences are embedded in.