Thesis Info

Thesis Title
Video Activism in the Italian Centri Sociali. A Visual Ethnography
Alessandra Caporale
2nd Author
3rd Author
PhD in Visual Anthropology
Number of Pages
Napier University, Edinburgh, Scotland
Thesis Supervisor
Desmond Bell
Supervisor e-mail
d.bell AT
Other Supervisor(s)
Louise Milne
Language(s) of Thesis
Department / Discipline
Design and Media Arts
Languages Familiar to Author
Italian, English, Spanish
URL where full thesis can be found
Ethnography, Visual Anthropology, Community Media, Social Movements, New Media, Art, Activism, Politics
Abstract: 200-500 words
This thesis begins by assessing the impact of photography and film-making on ethnographic methodology and how these practices have encouraged the emergence of the current reflexive trend within anthropology. This ‘reflexive turn’ stimulated the recognition of the constructed and subjective nature of representation, whether written or visual. In this work I investigate the Italian Centri Sociali’ (CSO) audiovisual practice starting from the analysis of a hundred of videos produced between 1991 and 2001. Using the video camera as a methodological tool, I combine images I produced during my fieldwork in some roman CSO with those produced by video collectives who developed their sensibility from within, or nearby, this underground culture. I focus on the ways in which the CSO adapts new media to the principles of autogestione (self-management) and autoproduzione (auto-production), thereby turning communication into a new arena of experimentation with ‘horizontal’ forms of political representation. On the one hand I underline a thread of continuity in the collective uses of radio, photography, audiovisual technology, community television and Internet and observe how the utilization of these technologies are embedded in the auto-organization ideology. On the other hand each new technological medium brings about a range of new potentialities at the level of production and dissemination which reconfigure the movement’s imagery and forms of organization. CSO video production increasingly moved from militant auto-documentary practice to the use of video as detonator of situations and to a variety of practices and styles which have in the collective creation their working principle. In conclusion, I reflect on some of the parallels and cross-fertilization between reflexive ethnographic film-practice, “video activism”, film and video art practices in their uses of visual media as tools of cultural critique. All these genres re-elaborate the critical knowledge and art practices of previous counter-cultural and political movements, with their performances and collective dramatizations. The questions about the relationship between form and content, representation and political agency, author and public, lie at the centre of the reflection about ethnographic representation as well as artistic production. From the open dialogue between ethnography and art practices interesting convergences and differences emerge, opening experimental spaces of creation and theorization.