“It’s gonna be me there in the picture”
An attempt to understand audio-visual forms of self-representation by African migrants in Switzerland
The anthropologist Victor Turner (1987: 81) once defined humans as homo performans. This implies that people are «essentially performing creatures who constitute and sustain their identities and collectively enact their worlds through roles and rituals» (Conquergood 1983: 27). Nowadays, the media are an often frequented public space for such identity enactments. However, audio-visual media are not just a vivid platform for representations, they are also a useful research tool. They are especially well suited to study human performances because they not only present lived experience but also facilitate the expression of imaginary as well as emotional parts of the self. As Sarah Pink (2001: 5) writes, a research approach which includes audio-visual methods recognizes «the interwovenness of objects, texts, images and technologies in people’s everyday lives and identities».
Sandra Mooser is currently doing her PhD in Social Anthropology at the University of Bern. Her study is part of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) research project «Nollywood made in Switzerland. Audio-visual forms of self-representation by African migrants in a transnational context» and additionally supported by the Dr. Joséphine de Kármán Foundation. During her fieldwork, she co-produced the Nollywood inspired film Paradise in my Mind.