Video Hall Morality : A minor field study of the production of space in video halls in Kampala, Uganda

University essay from Örebro universitet/Akademin för humaniora, utbildning och samhällsvetenskapÖrebro universitet/Institutionen för humaniora, utbildnings- och samhällsvetenskap

Abstract: The purpose of this study is to examine the social and political functions of the video halls in Kampala, Uganda, based on a field study conducted during two months in the end of 2011. 13 video halls in nine different areas of Kampala form the basis of this study, and the methods being used are observations and structured and semistructured interviews with video hall owners, attendees, street vendors and "people on the street". The video halls are then problematized and discussed through theories on (social) space: Michel Foucault's (1967/1984) concept of "other spaces" and heterotopia; David Harvey's (1996) dialectical approach to the production of space, and; Nick Couldry and Anna McCarthy's (2004) volume on the concept of MediaSpace. The study finds that the social space of the video hall is closely linked with questions of morale and “otherness”: the video hall is by many regarded an immoral place, where thieves gather and people do drugs. This frames the video hall outside of the "normal" social imaginary, even by many of the people attending the hall. The study also finds that the potential for political resistance or an alternative public sphere – one of the main features of Foucault's heterotopia – as seen in the video parlors in Nigeria (Okome 2007) do not seem to have any bearing in the Ugandan context. Factors such as the lack of educational films, and the moral contestation of the social space, is argued to be the cause of this, however the study also makes the argument that the video hall itself, as well as the academic field of film in general, has to be taken more seriously by the academia in Uganda in order to make sense of the functions and implications of this "othering" of the social space that is the video hall.

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