Presentation Title

Documenting the invisible: A Black Institution Through White Eyes

Biographical Sketch

Caroline Whitcomb is currently an Ed.D. student in Curriculum Studies at Georgia Southern University. Academic interests include the examination of race-based discrimination in education and critical pedagogy.

Daniel Chapman is an Associate Professor in the Ed.D. in Curriculum Studies at Georgia Southern University. His research interests are in Digital Media, Documentaries, and other forms of Cultural Studies.

Type of Presentation

Individual presentation

Brief Description of Presentation

As a white researcher/filmmaker of an all black private school, I must confront the issues of representation and responsibility. Who gets to tell what stories? What are the ethical responsibilities of a researcher toward the participants?

Abstract of Proposal

The documentary form has a long history of filmmakers representing other people’s communities. Sometimes this means visual ethnographers traveling around the world to “say something” about/with a people far in distance and culture. Sometimes, this means independent filmmakers telling stories about/with marginalized groups closer to home. Frequently, the participants in the film have less social capital than the filmmaker or the audience. Filming and editing someone carries with it an aspect of violence, as the form necessitates reducing people to characters and/or icons. This raises issues of trust. The filmmaker must gain the trust of the participants to fairly represent their story, and the filmmaker must gain the trust of the audience as a fair storyteller. As Brain Winston posits, does the documentarian have more responsibility to the participants or the audience? There is a delicate balance to negotiate between the potential and real benefits to the subjects for participating and the desire to tell a compelling story. In this presentation, we will explore these issues through the creation of a film about an all Black private boarding school (now closed) outside of Augusta. The white researcher/filmmaker's family has lived in the county where this school was located for generations, yet she never heard of Boggs Academy until recently. The researcher must negotiate the problems and tensions that arise from trying to represent this Black institution and her relationship to it.

Location

Session 5C ( Tellfair, Hilton Garden Inn)

Start Date

2-23-2019 10:15 AM

End Date

2-23-2019 11:45 AM

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Feb 23rd, 10:15 AM Feb 23rd, 11:45 AM

Documenting the invisible: A Black Institution Through White Eyes

Session 5C ( Tellfair, Hilton Garden Inn)

The documentary form has a long history of filmmakers representing other people’s communities. Sometimes this means visual ethnographers traveling around the world to “say something” about/with a people far in distance and culture. Sometimes, this means independent filmmakers telling stories about/with marginalized groups closer to home. Frequently, the participants in the film have less social capital than the filmmaker or the audience. Filming and editing someone carries with it an aspect of violence, as the form necessitates reducing people to characters and/or icons. This raises issues of trust. The filmmaker must gain the trust of the participants to fairly represent their story, and the filmmaker must gain the trust of the audience as a fair storyteller. As Brain Winston posits, does the documentarian have more responsibility to the participants or the audience? There is a delicate balance to negotiate between the potential and real benefits to the subjects for participating and the desire to tell a compelling story. In this presentation, we will explore these issues through the creation of a film about an all Black private boarding school (now closed) outside of Augusta. The white researcher/filmmaker's family has lived in the county where this school was located for generations, yet she never heard of Boggs Academy until recently. The researcher must negotiate the problems and tensions that arise from trying to represent this Black institution and her relationship to it.