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Title: Animation in Sub-Saharan Africa : trajectories of ideas and practice
Author: Callus, Paula
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 133X
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis explores some of the trajectories of ideas and practices present in Sub-Saharan African animation. It seeks to redress the absence of critical analysis in animation studies outside of the US and Europe and identify invisible histories of animation in Africa. Furthermore it investigates the unique possibilities that animation offers to the African artist through the straddling of a range of different artistic practice. The discussion intentionally moves away from conventional discourses that locate animation as a discrete form that is separate to other moving images, and instead repositions these ideas as continuities of practice. Drawing specifically upon computer animation and CGI it was possible to identify digital mutable contexts of practice that that problematize this split. Furthermore the discussion of digital technologies within Africa gives an alternative account to the presumed 'technologically primitive' associations made of these countries. Through multi-sited participant-observation fieldwork in Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo and involvement on the UNESCO Africa Animated projects, relationships were established with various practicing animators and the artistic communities that they contributed to. It was possible to observe and consider the range of contexts in practices both in local, regional and international intersections, whilst reflecting upon the particular aesthetic motifs and styles visible in the animations. A selection of wider themes surrounding Sub-Saharan animation is used to frame the narratives that are compiled throughout this study. By focusing upon the mobile artist, for example this thesis draws attention to the question and politics of identity within the work of itinerant African animators. The thesis then turns its attention to properties of subversive animation and the tactics (de Certeau, 1984) that African animators call upon as they create political work. The animated documentary is presented separately as one specific genre of subversive animation that is formally problematic and has been at the centre of discourses within animation studies. In this context examples from Sub-Saharan animators are used to position this genre as a 'testimonial' form, drawing upon testimonio as a device that liberates the concern with questions of truth and 'realism'. Finally the thesis concludes with a focus upon digital technologies and specifically the Internet drawing upon the Deleuzian metaphor of the rhizome (Deleuze & Guattari 1987). It provides evidence of alternative modes of production, exhibition and distribution in various Sub-Saharan countries that capitalize upon new media technologies and problematizes the concept of the Internet as living archive for Sub-Saharan animation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral