Angela Jouini

Hand / Camera / Phone: Mobile Cameras, Migration, and Knowledge Production in Our Hands

MECAM Papers English | 2023

  • Mobile phones are linked to migration in many ways: as a communication tool, as a trade object, or as a means to exchange practical information on where to find shelter, cross borders, or circumvent the police. Using mobile phones as cameras, the movie Midnight Traveler (Hassan Fazili, 2019) refers to all of these dimensions, while also going beyond them by placing film production and knowledge production into the hands of those who migrate.

    • A mobile phone’s combination of different functions including telephone, messenger, map, and camera renders it vital for migration movements and allows it to be used as a tool for documenting from a migrant’s perspective.

    • Handheld mobile phone cameras have the potential to blur the distinction between the filmic world and its means of production, collapsing what is in front of the camera and what usually stays hidden behind it through the gesture of a hand reaching into the image and grabbing the camera while filming.

    • Mobile phone filmmaking challenges the privilege of the eye and the visual, offering tactile techniques of spectatorship and forms of knowledge production based on touch.

    Context Mobile phones have a close relation to the hand itself, when they are used as handheld cameras, or in the way a touchscreen is operated. When mobile phone cameras are used in documentary filmmaking to tell a migrant’s story on their own terms, they offer a “hands-on” approach to digital knowledge production that incorporates not only the reality of its production but also the potential for a change of perspective.

    English version: Hand / Camera / Phone: Mobile Cameras, Migration, and Knowledge Production in Our Hands

    French version: Main / caméra / téléphone : Caméras mobiles, migration et production de connaissances à portée de main

    Arab version: اليد / الكاميرا / الهاتف: الكاميرات المحمولة والهجرة وإنتاج المعرفة بين أيدينا


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    Merian Center for Advanced Studies in the Maghreb




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