Professor Conor O’Reilly, School of Law, Faculty of Social Science
Responsive Mode Impact Fund
Amor Secuestrado (‘Kidnapped Love’): Transmedia Storytelling Through Telenovelas to Break Taboos and Catalyse Counter-Kidnapping Action in Mexico
In our IAA project, we employ a transmedia storytelling strategy1 –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 have worked 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 five 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 key locations in Mexico City and in Mexicali in the Northern borderlands. 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 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. The millennial-novelas will now be complemented by the videogame, Codigo Secuestro, within planned engagement activities that connect to another ESRC-funded project: ‘Data Justice in Mexico’s Multiveillant Society: How Big Data is Shaping the Struggle for Human Rights and Political Freedoms’.
By working with a grassroots film-production company, local activist-facilitators, multimedia experts, social-media producers, 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