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Unsettling Narrative(s): Film Making as an Anthropological Lens on an Artist-Led Project Exploring LGBT Recovery from Substance Use

Roy, Alastair, Ravetz, Amanda ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5349-3668 and Prest, Mark (2020) Unsettling Narrative(s): Film Making as an Anthropological Lens on an Artist-Led Project Exploring LGBT Recovery from Substance Use. Anthropological Notebooks, 26 (1). pp. 33-54. ISSN 2232-3716

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Abstract

This paper explores My Recoverist Family, a film in which each of us had a different role: as anthropological film maker (Amanda); commissioner of the project and participant within it (Mark); and audience member and critic (Ali). The film shows a group of LGBT+ people using art to explore recovery from substance use with reference to their own biographies and wider social issues. The paper interrogates the interaction of visual and performing arts and storytelling in touching, articulating and representing the film’s main focus - the injustices of LGBT+ people. Using the idea of unsettling narrative(s), we analyse how the film makers privilege exploration over explanation, and glimpsed momentary understandings over narrative coherence, explanation and denouement. In order to align the writing process with the filmmaking methodology (influenced by anthropologist Tim Ingold’s (2014) understanding of the creativity of undergoing) we utilised a methodological tool that Ali contributed to developing called the scenic composition (Froggett et al. 2014). We argue that the paper’s significance is both substantive and methodological: artistically metabolised narratives make it possible to complicate ‘the stories being listened for’ (Woods et al: 2019); and this in turn begins to dismantle the binaries around which much current addiction treatment policy and practice is constructed.

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