Unsettling Narrative(s)


Unsettling narrative(s): Film making as an anthropological lens on an artist-led project exploring LGBT+ recovery from substance use

In 2017, Mark Prest, Portraits of Recovery Alastair Roy, University of Central Lancashire, and Amanda Ravetz, Manchester Metropolitan University, sat down to delve deeper into a recent project they had been part of.  

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

Download the Unsettling Narrative(s) paper here