International Journal of Conflict Engagement and Resolution

Article

Documentary Filmmakers

Bridging Practice and Scholarship in Peacebuilding

Keywords documentary, film, peacebuilding, narratives, storytelling
Authors Dana Townsend en Kuldeep Niraula
Author's information

Dana Townsend
Dana Townsend is a PhD student in Psychology and Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Her research focuses on the impact of political violence on youth’s psychological functioning as well as the ways that youth engage with memories of violence and utilize narratives to position themselves in their social worlds. She is also interested in the use of digital storytelling for community engagement, healing and reconciliation.

Kuldeep Niraula
Kuldeep Niraula is a PhD student in Conflict Resolution at George Mason University and graduated with an MA in International Peacebuilding from the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. His MA Thesis, “Addressing the Neglect of Local Peacebuilding Practices through Documentaries: A Case Study of Everyday Gandhis” analyses the possibilities and challenges of using documentaries to share local perspectives of peace with a wider audience.
  • Abstract

      In settings characterized by violent conflict, documentary filmmakers serve as a conduit between local experiences and the broader public. Highlighting these experiences requires filmmakers to immerse themselves in a context, digest scholarly findings, interview local sources and organize information into an accessible storyline. Those who utilize this craft often draw from established research or collaborate with scholars to ensure the narrative resonates with people and represents verified events. At the same time, their films contribute to the practice of peacebuilding through a participatory process that focuses on storytelling and community healing. This article explores the dual role of documentary filmmakers by positioning them as potential bridge-builders between practice and scholarship in peacebuilding. Specifically, it looks at the way filmmakers navigate between these realms by countering hegemonic narratives, introducing marginalized voices, contextualizing conflict and sharing stories with a wide audience – while also reflecting on the way their own identities and viewpoints influence this process.

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