Border crossings : how students negotiate cultural borders during digital video production

Doctoral Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This thesis explores emerging patterns of communication in student video production and the extent to which such patterns signify cultural border crossings in a South African upper income group school context. The investigation was carried out with specific reference to the politics of difference, an educational philosophy defined by Henry Giroux (2006) as border pedagogy. Within the framework of multimodal pedagogy, four learners from diverse cultural backgrounds collaborated with one another in a timeframe of three days to create digital video productions using guidelines provided by the researcher. The production unit was observed in order to answer questions around the utilisation of video production in the classroom, as well as how learners interact and negotiate cultural issues while producing video. The data was analysed with a custom-made multimodal toolkit as proposed by Baldry and Thibault (2006). By employing Kress and Van Leeuwen's four strata of Discourse, Design, Production and Distribution various types of data illuminated themes around social memory, race, the influence of class difference, and gender representation. Assessment techniques in terms of the multimodal theories of Kress and Van Leeuwen (2001) also enabled the researcher to look at the way in which meaning is made "in any and every sign, at every level, and in any mode" (Kress & Van Leeuwen, 2001: 4). The classroom intervention was designed to encourage adolescents as "unique hybrids" (Bhabha 1994) to cross borders of cultural identity, hypothesising that difference might emerge more clearly in the negotiation and video production process, than what might crystallise in analyzing the final video production. Metaphorical border crossing in a cultural and racial sense might become more apparent in production than final product. The negotiation of Border Difference took preference over the ultimate erosion of these borders.

Includes bibliographical references (p. 278-292).