Piety in Production: Video Film, Religious Improvisation, and Cosmopolitan Ethics in Bénin

Brian Smithson, Ph.D. Candidate, Dept. of Cultural Anthropology, Duke University, and Weatherhead/Charlotte Newcombe Resident Scholar, SAR

Colloquium, Dobkin Boardroom, SAR Administration Building

Wednesday, November 8, 2017, 12:00–1:00 pm, Free

Brian SmithsonBrian SmithsonPhoto courtesy of Karen Wodke.Brian SmithsonPhoto courtesy of Karen Wodke.

In the small, West African country of Bénin, Yorùbá movie crews improvise stories that venerate indigenous spirits. Meanwhile, these productions bring Christians, Muslims, and followers of Yorùbá divinities together on sets and in writers’ rooms, offering them a forum to negotiate norms of religious interaction, and to assert their cultural importance on a global stage. Based on two years of field research, Brian C. Smithson considers how these moviemakers stay active despite economic competition from Nigeria’s Nollywood juggernaut and disdain for video film aesthetics from the Béninois state.

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