Professor Conor O’Reilly

School of Law, Faculty of Social Science

Amor Secuestrado (‘Kidnapped Love’): Transmedia Storytelling Through Telenovelas to Break Taboos and Catalyse Counter-Kidnapping Action in Mexico

Responsive Mode Impact Fund

In our proposed IAA project, we will employ a transmedia storytelling strategy centred on telenovelas about kidnapping– in order to achieve the following: (i) to break taboos around the pervasive insecurity of kidnapping; (ii) to create new narratives of solidarity and resilience in the face of this threat; and (iii) to provide practical assistance to those confronting this risk, directing them to the counter-kidnapping toolkit developed through our Newton Fund research. By harnessing our extensive fieldwork data and participatory action research experience with those affected by kidnapping, we will work with grassroots film-producers (VerdeAzul Producionnes) to create a web-series of telenovelas called Amor Secuestro (‘Kidnapped Love’)

The telenovela is a highly popular cultural form that has emerged from Latin America. Its characteristic melodrama, and indeed humour, present a highly effective, educational and entertaining medium through which to address the challenging topic of kidnapping. It will enable us to reach diverse Mexican audiences and promote inter-generational family engagement on this issue. Amor Secuestrado will depict six different kidnapping scenarios in a web-series of short videos to provoke discussion of kidnap-prevention and counter-kidnapping action. These short videos will be shown first to students and young people, hence we have termed this a web-series of ‘millennial-novelas’. Facilitated by local activists, organised screenings and follow-up workshops will take place in three key locations: Ciudad Juarez; Mexico City; and, Tijuana. Following each workshop, participating students will show these same millennial-novelas at home and discuss them with their own families, generating more intimate dialogue and feedback. Our objective here is to open up inter-generational discussion and multi-platform discourse about one of Mexico’s most significant insecurities, as well as to initiate constructive action about how it might be effectively addressed, not least through the counter-kidnapping toolkit that we have developed.

By working with a grassroots film-production company, local activist-facilitators, social-media producers and web-designers, students and families, as well as those more directly affected by kidnapping, this IAA project will catalyse diverse groups concerned with social justice and public security in order to reclaim the confidence, solidarity and intimacy that has been eroded and disrupted by the predatory insecurity of kidnapping.

More information on this project is available here

Professor Conor O’Reilly can be contacted by email: C.OReilly@leeds.ac.uk