Subprojects | Project Area C | Circulation and Order

Streaming Series: Spatial Stories and the Production Regimes of Afronovelas

This subproject investigates the production of spatial stories in popular culture using the example of streaming series. Over the past decades, TV series have emerged as influential mass media products boasting a wide range. They tell us stories about, in and through the world, thereby contributing to the creation of collective spatial stories and offering their own interpretations of current spatial changes worldwide. The project focuses on afronovelas to analyze spatial stories of the West African (upper) middle classes, which contain (as yet understudied) projections of a successful life and its associated everyday spaces in a West African metropolis.

Using both film analysis and approaches in spatial and cultural sociology, these spatial stories will be investigated within the context of their respective production regimes. The landscape of West African TV series is currently undergoing significant changes. It accommodates three competing production regimes, which will serve as paradigmatic units of comparison in our research: The first regime is a remnant of the colonial period and follows the model of global cooperation under the tutelage of France; the second regime grown out of increasing regionalization resulting in the emergence of a local West-African private sector in the field of audio-visual production; the third regime was spurred by the rise of platform economies leading to a growth in translocal co-productions. The subproject asks whether and how the production of fictional spaces in these tv series varies between different production regimes. It will, moreover, look into potential conflicts and mutual tensions between spatial stories of refiguration and refigured conditions of production.

Based on the concept of multiple spatialities, the project aims to map out variations of spatial stories in similar contexts and investigate whether they can be attributed to the series’ production regime. The different regimes can be read as spatial figurations – the links, interactions, and overlaps between them will be focus of our analysis. As paradigmatic markers of a refigured spatial order, these spatial figurations are of particular interest for the study of the refiguration of spaces, not least because they address two major societal challenges in recent decades, namely decolonization and mediatization. The project adopts a multimodal qualitative research approach that includes an in-depth analysis of three West African afronovelas, a focused ethnographic study into the production of fictional spaces on set, and an institutional mapping of the three production regimes.