Collaborative Visual Anthropology

Visual Anthropology Programs and Participatory Video in Sahel

One root reason for the ongoing crisis in the Sahel is that the colonial and post-colonial political system has weakened local decision-making structures and consequently local populations participation and influence upon processes in their own communities (Stenberg 2009, Sardan, 2015).  

Building on more than 30 years of collaboration between francophone visual anthropologists at UiT-Arctic University of Norway and universities in the Sahel (in Maroua and Ngaoundere, Cameroon, Bamako, Mali and Niamey, Niger), we have now started a new research and competence building project titled “Sahel on Sahel: Collaborative Visual Anthropology” (2021-2026).

Knowledge about making films in collaborative dialogues is the fundament of our visual anthropology programs. This presentation departs from the idea that the collaborative space between image-maker and film subject is the space where good documentary films are made (Elder 1995, Kamerling, 2017). We will build on this idea with examples from the «Sahel par lul même» initiative, where PhD students in visual anthropology teach «locals» to make films about their own lived experiences and/or communities. Film teaching researchers collaborate with their local students to identify and understand what's at stake in a particular social setting. In enabling multiple voices to contribute to dialogues internally and between communities we strive to establish collaborative spaces for reflecting on the various local challenges, producing anthropological knowledge, and compelling audio-visual stories, capable of touching and convincing those who can make a difference (Eriksen, 2021).

Prof. Dr. Trond Waage

Prof. Dr. Trond Waage, a visual anthropologist at UiT/Arctic University of Norway, has worked on issues related to urbanization, migration and ethnicity in a fast-growing city in Cameroon since 1998. In his work, with different youth milieus, he has made use of the video camera to create dialogues in the field and edited films to reach various audiences. Waage teaches at the master's program in Visual Anthropology at UiT, and he is the PI at the project “Sahel on Sahel: Collaborative Visual Anthropology,” which is building up master’s programs in Visual Anthropology in Mali, Niger and Cameron. His latest films are: “Les Mairuuwas – The Masters of Water” (2015), “Living with Boko Haram” (2016), “Let’s Build a Waterfall” (2016), “The World Has Not Changed” (2018), and “A Peaceful Place” (2021).

Dr. Mouazamou Ahmadou

Dr. Mouadjamou Ahmadou is a lecturer and researcher in Visual anthropology. He is affiliated with the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and the Social Sciences for development at the faculty of Arts, Letters and Social Sciences of the University of Maroua in Northern Cameroon.

He is a Director of the Visual Anthropology Laboratory and a board member of the Commission on Visual Anthropology. Author of several articles and films shot in Cameroon, Chad and Norway.

Dr. Sidylamine Bagayoko

Sidylamine Bagayoko is an anthropologist with expertise in visual and digital communication. He went to the University of Tromsø in Norway where he received a Master in Visual Cultural Studies at the Institute of Social Anthropology of the Faculty of Social Sciences. After graduating from the University of Tromsø in 2009, he started his PhD studies in Anthropology and Visual Communication at the University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis in southern France where he received a Doctorate in 2014. He is a lecturer at the Department of Arts and Humanities at the University of Bamako, Mali. He has also directed several research films related to education and poverty in Mali. His research focuses on visual anthropology, economic anthropology, urban poverty and education in Mali.

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