The Ungdomsblikk project
– a brief introduction
‘Ungdomsblikk’ (transl. Youth Gaze) is a filmcourse scheme targeted for at-risk youths that promotes a process of self-articulation and self-reflection for the participants. The course design was developed by Trond Waage, Reni Wright and myself, all anthropologists connected to the milieu of Visual Cultural Studies at The Arctic University of Norway, UoT. The filmcourses were carried out in collaboration with various agents within the Norwegian welfare system that work up-close with at-risk youths on a daily basis: Utekontakten, Helsesøstertjenesten, NAV-Ungdom and Oppfølgingstjenesten. Agents from these institutions assisted at recruiting the youths, hosting and facilitating the courses, and following-up the youths after the course.
In these courses the youth participants were given the task of constructing each their film where they would portray themselves, their everyday life and/or significant life experiences. A central activity in the course was their filming from colloquial settings, and bringing these takes into the filmcourse setting for group discussion. These rounds of collectively looking at and analyzing filmed material would, for the youths, trigger (self-) reflection and bring out new ideas for how to advance with their films. For the social workers and anthropologists such discussions provided new insights into these youths’ ways of looking at concrete issues and experiences in their lives. The pilot phase of the Ungdomsblikk project consisted in exploring whether such filmcourses could be applicable as a methodic tool for social- and health-workers engaged in working with at-risk youths on a daily basis. Three courses were given in the pilot phase of the project, in 2005-2006. The pilot was funded by the Directorate for Health and Social Affairs, RKBU-Nord (Regional Centre for Child and Youth Mental Health and Child Welfare) and the Sami National Center of Competence.
From the pilot phase we came to experience that Ungdomsblikk film courses provided a means to collect ethnographic data about at-risk youths ways of living their lives, managing their identities and their relations to others. Besides it provided a means to get at-risk youths in dialogue about central aspects about their daily lives and experiences, particularly issues that they considered to be relevant. In 2007 we received funding from the Arctic University of Norway, UoT, for conducting research on at-risk youths’ identification processes through applying the Ungdomsblikk filmcourses as research method. In this conjunction I received my PhD grant. Through another four Ungdomsblikk filmcourses I gathered data for this PhD research. In my PhD thesis I analyze the youths’ processes of identification and strategies of belonging. Their filmmaking processes constitute the primary empirical base.