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Mon. November 12, 2018
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Documentaries for Peace
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By Dr. Cornelia Beyer

An additional way to promote peace, globalization, intercultural understanding, and maybe even somewhat counter extreme right wing tendencies, could be the increase of documentaries in the generally available media, films that illustrate life in various countries around the world in all its colorful facets, both good and bad, not necessarily with any specific message. If such media outlets would be more widely available and more broadly distributed, this could substantially not only educate people, but through that, also facilitate the benign processes necessary for globalization and global harmony. At this time, in most places in the world, one has to make a sustained effort to get access to such materials. If, for example, Hollywood would focus part of its efforts into this direction, a need and demand could be satisfied that is probably not even yet discovered. Learning about other cultures, countries, and peoples is a desire in many, young and old, people that not everyone can satisfy via extensive tourism or education.

Blockbuster films might find an established market, but a new, important and potentially huge market for films could exist in the documentary area. For example, as a transnational European in the UK with access to Sky TV, I find it very frustrating that most of the documentaries available deal either with the Second World War or animal life. Instead, I desire travel shows from all over the world, exploring cultures, nature, history, philosophy, science, society, food, politics, fashion etc. from places that I have no knowledge of and lack the time and means to visit myself. My suspicion is that I am by far not alone with this desire. Also, it is even possible that this lack of information might have contributed to phenomena such as Brexit: If the main information in the UK about Europe and Germany in television consists in films about the world wars, but European cultural and documentary channels, such as Phoenix and Arte. French-German collaborations with the primary purpose to foster intercultural understanding - are not available, this must lead to a more negatively colored view of Europe. The media and cultural products can play an important role in facilitating peace. This is long known and has been used as a tool for many decades and probably more. Using the film industry to overcome international and intercultural tensions could be a way towards a more harmonious global culture. 

Dr. AC Beyer is Senior Lecturer at the University of Hull. Her main publications include: Inequality and Violence (2014 Ashgate) and Violent Globalisms (2010 Ashgate). 

 

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