Finding a voice - Nollywood inspired filmmaking practices in Switzerland

Mooser, Sandra (13 July 2015). Finding a voice - Nollywood inspired filmmaking practices in Switzerland (Unpublished). In: IAMCR 2015. UQAM Montréal, Canada. 12.-16.07.2015.

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Under the name Nollywood a unique video film industry has developed in Nigeria in the last few decades, which now forms one of the world’s biggest entertainment industries. With its focus on stories reflecting „the values, desires and fears” (Haynes 2007: 133) of African viewers and its particular way of production, Nollywood brings „lived practices and its representation together in ways that make the films deeply accessible and entirely familiar to their audience“ (Marston et al. 2007: 57). In doing so, Nollywood shows its spectators new postcolonial forms of performative self‐expression and becomes a point of reference for a wide range of people. However, Nollywood not only excites a large number of viewers inside and outside Nigeria, it also inspires some of them to become active themselves and make their own films. This effect of Nigerian filmmaking can be found in many parts of sub‐Saharan Africa as well as in African diasporas all over the world – including Switzerland (Mooser 2011: 63‐66). As a source of inspiration, Nollywood and its unconventional ways of filmmaking offer African migrants a benchmark that meets their wish to express themselves as minority group in a foreign country. As Appadurai (1996: 53), Ginsburg (2003: 78) and Marks (2000: 21) assume, filmmakers with a migratory background have a specific need to express themselves through media. As minority group members in their country of residence they not only wish to reflect upon their situation within the diaspora and illustrate their everyday struggles as foreigners, but to also express their own views and ideas in order to challenge dominant public opinion (Ginsburg 2003: 78). They attempt to “talk back to the structures of power” (2003: 78) they live in. In this process, their audio-visual works become a means of response and “an answering echo to a previous presentation or representation” (Mitchell 1994: 421). The American art historian Mitchell, therefore, suggests interpreting representation as “the relay mechanism in exchange of power, value, and publicity” (1994: 420). This desire of interacting with the local public has also been expressed during a film project of African, mainly Nigerian, first-generation migrants in Switzerland I am currently partnering in. Several cast and crew members have expressed feelings of being under-represented, even misrepresented, in the dominant Swiss media discourse. In order to create a form of exchange and give themselves a voice, they consequently produce a Nollywood inspired film and wish to present it to the society they live in. My partnership in this on‐going film production (which forms the foundation of my PhD field study) allows me to observe and experience this process. By employing qualitative media anthropological methods and in particular Performance Ethnography, I seek to find out more about the ways African migrants represent themselves as a community through audio‐visual media and the effect the transnational use of Nollywood has on their form of self‐representations as well as the ways they express themselves.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Social Anthropology

UniBE Contributor:

Mooser, Sandra


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology




Sandra Rita Mooser

Date Deposited:

20 Jul 2015 10:11

Last Modified:

20 Jul 2015 10:11


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