Sites of power : Documentary ethics and representation of child abuse
Visage, A. N. (2021). Sites of power: Documentary ethics and representation of child abuse (Thesis, Master of Arts (MA)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/14578
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/14578
New Zealand has one of the highest child abuse rates in the developed world. Discourses about child abuse are stigmatised, and this stigma thrives in silence. Documentary films provide a unique site of power in which child abuse discourse can be represented to challenge such stigma and promote social change. The existing literature surrounding documentary ethics and representations of child abuse is minimal despite the centrality of ethics to documentary practices. Documentarians may use a range of representational strategies to represent such discourses, which may help negotiate ethical concerns or present additional ethical concerns in relation to the participants, audience and filmmakers. This thesis has three objectives: to determine the discourses about child abuse represented in the documentaries Tarnation, Daughter Rite and Breaking Silence, to identify the representational strategies used and to identify the associated ethical concerns. In order to examine these discourses and representational strategies, the methods of critical discourse analysis and affect analysis are applied through the analytical framework of Bill Nichols’ documentary modes. The identification of the discourses and representational strategies has allowed for the identification of the associated ethical concerns. The results show that discourses about the cyclical nature of abuse are present in the documentaries, and that there is ethical tension between the autobiographical filmmaker’s impulse to tell their truths and the potential exploitation of participants. This thesis concludes that there is a need for academic exploration around the therapeutic outcomes of autobiographical documentary filmmaking.
The University of Waikato
All items in Research Commons are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.
- Masters Degree Theses