Authoring author-ity in transition? The Counter // Narratives of Higher Education Project

Dina Zoe Belluigi, Brent Meistre

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

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Explorations of the seen and unseen social changes within the academy underpin the Counter// Narratives’ project, where in 2019-2020 the life history narratives of first generation academics from Angola, India, South Africa and Syria were engaged with by visual artists from the collective Analogue Eye: Video Art Africa, many of whom are themselves first generation university-educated.

In each of these contexts, a critical mass of those from groups and knowledge systems misrecognised and oppressed have negotiated radical changes in the figures and institutions of authority in their countries. Authorship is central to such power and to agency. This paper deliberates such questions and politics of authorship alongside those entanglements of author-ing inherent to the interpretative processes of storytelling, artistic research and interpretation within The ‘Counter // Narratives’ Project itself - which sought to explore how counter-stories may see a way through the myopia of the social delegitimation of the western-oriented academy, provide challenge to reproductions of internalised oppression, and openings to engagement with more just notions of authority.

Against the dominant hero narratives of social mobility and exceptionalism, and the looming spectres of colonial universities’ mythologies of quality, the artists grappled with the ethico-historical responsibility of bearing witness, but also creating generative and equitious imaginaries through their creative arts research practice. Drawing on reflective interviews with the artists, participants and ourselves as the research-curatorial team, in this video we offer a synopsis of the paper for this conference. Within it, we highlight insights into the layers of narration negotiated, including the relations between those layers and the visual discourses and micro-textuality of the final videos. Excerpts and stills from the video artworks, and extracts from correspondence, transcripts and audience reception responses are referenced by the research-curatorial team, to provide a rich and complex dialogue about the im-possibilities of representing and visualising emancipatory imaginaries.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted - 31 Jan 2021
EventInternational Visual Sociology Conference 2021 - University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 05 Jun 2021 → …


ConferenceInternational Visual Sociology Conference 2021
Period05/06/2021 → …
Internet address


  • higher education
  • social injustice
  • South Africa
  • Syria
  • India
  • Angola
  • art-based research methods


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