Dr. Carmela Garritano to Give a Talk on West African Video Movie Making Friday

Dr. Carmela Garritano, English Department, will present “Spectacular Consumption in an Afropolis: A Talk About West African Video Movies” on Friday, March 4. The event will be held from 3:15 to 4:15 p.m. in the O’Shaughnessy Room, Room 108, O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library Center.

Dr. Carmela Garritano

Dr. Carmela Garritano

The emergence of popular video industries in Ghana and Nigeria represents an important and exciting development in African cultural production over the past two decades. An inexpensive, widely available, and easy-to-use technology for the production, duplication and distribution of movies and other media content, video has radically transformed the African cultural landscape.

It has allowed video makers in Ghana and Nigeria, individuals who in most cases are detached from official cultural institutions and work outside the purview of the state, to create a tremendously popular commercial cinema for audiences in Africa and abroad: feature “films” made on video.

This talk, drawn from Garritano’s research on the Ghanaian video industry, will describe the changing representation of the African city, or the Afropolis, in video movies produced between the late 1980s and 2010.

In the earliest videos, the landscape of urban poverty was a constitutive part of the worlds the movies presented, and in the narratives of these movies, deprivation was the social given that motivated characters’ choices. More recently, the urban landscape, when made visible at all, is largely devoid of signs of hardship or poverty. The city is made to resemble a display window, a framed and carefully orchestrated surface exhibition of consumerism and consumption.

Garritano’s presentation will suggest a correspondence between this shift and transformations in the economic and structural organization of media institutions, including the opening of the West African cultural landscape to new global media flows.

The event is free and open to the campus community and the public; coffee and cookies will be served.