Isabel Macedo: new PhD in Cultural Studies

The doctoral exams in Cultural Studies (field of expertise in Communication and Culture) by Isabel Moreira Macedo were held on March 20 (2:30 p.m.), in the ICS auditorium of UMinho (Braga). The thesis is supervised by Rosa Cabecinhas, an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Sciences at UMinho and a researcher in CECS, and is entitled  “Migrations, Cultural Memory and Identity Representations: Film Literacy in the Promotion of Intercultural Dialogue”.

This research is aimed at discussing the role of cinema in the dissemination and critical (re)construction of views on the ‘Other’. For Isabel Macedo, “examined the representations conveyed by the Portuguese filmic documentary produced between 2007 and 2013 and explored how young people interpret filmic content. In order to contextualize our approach, we developed document analysis of international guidelines related to the role played by the media in representations of migrant populations and minorities. We also explored national legislation on the audiovisual and documents linked to the Portuguese filmic production. As an in-depth study, we focused on a selected documentary corpus and interviewed the correspondent directors. Furthermore, we conducted focus groups with High School students, examining how they interpret the film Li Ké Terra (2010). Finally, we interviewed teachers involved with school coordination of the National Cinema Plan (NCP), inquiring about their views on the role of cinema in education”.

The studied documentaries disseminate a set of representations that can contribute to both deconstruction and reinforcement of certain social stereotypes. Our results also indicate that even though the young participants of this study do not have any direct experience of colonial past, they convene stereotypes transmitted via socialization processes, namely, in the family, school and media, when reflecting on intercultural relations. The analysed data point to the persistence of expressions of racism and the association of black people to crime, aggression and lack of agency. There are still mobilised representations concerned with the ‘lusotropicalist myth’ and the supposed ‘immunity’ of the Portuguese society to racism. While agents of social change, both cinema and school play an active role towards critical views on the world and about the ‘Other’.

Having found that the participants in our research assign a central role to the cinema for teaching/learning processes, it is important to introduce the topics on racism and intercultural relations in NCP’s activities. In the long-term perspective, this initiative may assure that citizens become more critical, as well as more reflective about media content, contributing to multicultural film literacy, ‘decolonizing’ imaginaries and representations.