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Title: Transitional narratives : youth and screen media in contemporary South Africa (1994-2014)
Author: Singer, Christine
ISNI:       0000 0004 6500 5857
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2017
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South Africa is a "young" nation in a dual sense. It is not only a democracy in its twenty-second year, but also a country with a large youthful population under 35 years of age. South African youth are often referred to as "Born Frees", being the first generation to grow up without the discriminatory policies of apartheid. However, ongoing disparities in relation to class, gender, and race in South African society reveal stark differences within this generation. These complexities are illuminated in numerous post-apartheid South African films and television drama series that place young people at the centre. This thesis explores the production, representation, and exhibition of a selection of youth-focused South African films and television programmes: Otelo Burning (2011), Rough Aunties (2008), Intersexions (2009-2010), the Steps for the Future Youth Films (2009), and The African Cypher (2012). Using qualitative, interdisciplinary research methods, the study explores the discourses on the "Born Frees" in these film and television texts; the power relations and ethics informing the production of these works; and the works' role in creating "publics", that is, the discussions and actions they provoked among audiences in South Africa, and further afield. The thesis' major findings suggest that the films and television dramas under analysis evoke "transitional narratives" in multiple ways. These works evoke the idea that just as youth is a period of transition, so too is South Africa in a transitional stage, where apartheid has not yet entirely ended. The analysis thus renders more complex European and North American definitions of "youth" that often fail to consider the myriad meanings of this concept. Moreover, these media productions expose persisting inequalities of gender, "race", and class that exist in South African society today, and the initiatives some people have taken to address them. In the final analysis, the thesis reveals that different screen media platforms, and the publics they create, are increasingly "converging" in contemporary South Africa. The television medium (more than cinemas) had a vital role in exhibiting the films studied here, and social media sites were important spaces where young audiences discussed the films and television programmes. However, the study also suggests that it was particularly community film screenings that played a vital role in creating publics which brought audiences from different social backgrounds together in intimate and socially generative ways.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral