Making the Invisible Visible: The Practice of Film Production as International Relations

Image: Sebastien Grey [CC/Flickr]

Event details

Department of International Relations Seminar

Date & time

Friday 15 June 2018


PSC Reading Room 4.27, Hedley Bull Centre (130), Garran Road, ANU
ANU Canberra


Dr Sophie Harman, Queen Mary University of London


Bell School

One question that International Relations’ (IR) feminist and decolonial theorists grapple with is how can ‘the invisible’ be made ‘visible’ in such a way that recognises its agency? In this seminar, Sophie Harman explores a new method of research to explore this question: the co-production of a narrative feature film Pili, between an academic researcher, a film crew, and a group of women from rural coastal Tanzania living below the international poverty line of US$2 a day. This project is the first use of narrative feature film as method in IR.

This talk discusses the wider politics of using film as method and what film as method reveals about transnational feminism, the state in sub-Saharan Africa, and hierarchies of knowledge in IR. It is based on Harman’s existing publications on the politics of film as method and a book manuscript on which she is currently working. Further information on the film Pili can be found on IMDb, Facebook and Twitter @PiliFilm.

Dr Sophie Harman is Reader in International Politics at Queen Mary University of London where she teaches and conducts research on global health politics, gender and global health, and African agency in IR and is a Visiting Professor at HEARD, Kwa-Zulu Natal. She has published six books in these areas, most notably The World Bank and HIV/AIDS: Setting a Global Agenda (Routledge, 2010) and Global Health Governance (Routledge, 2012). She is the co-editor of the Review of International Studies, founder of the British International Studies Association Global Health working group, and is the Chair of the International Studies Association Global Health book prize. In 2017 she was identified by the BBC as one of their key ‘Expert Women’. Her first feature film Pili premiered in competition at the Dinard British Film Festival in 2017 where it was awarded the Hitchcock Public Award and Special Mention by the judges for the Screenplay.

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