What is in the draft: A reflection on precarity in Kivu Ruhorahoza’s Europa: ‘Based on a True Story’

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Director Kivu Ruhorahoza’s film Europa: ‘Based on a True Story’ is a blend of fiction, quasi-ethnography and autobiography. In this article, built in part on the foundations of Judith Butler’s conceptualizations of precariousness, precarity and assembly, Europa is read as a refusal to be relegated to the marginal spectrality of bare life. Simultaneously, this article considers the draft-like provisionality of the film as a hallmark of its precarity. Framed as an essay film about the fate of an African director who attempts to make a film ‘out of Africa’, Europa provides a meditation on belonging and the precarious conditions of filming in Europe with an African passport. As Nandini Sikand writes, ‘the assumption of ethnographic fieldwork and participant observation is that by living and learning for an extended period alongside our informants, we are able to document and analyze their experience more accurately’ (2015: 45). Ruhorahoza’s film compels us to think about the position of the participant observer when the ‘extended period’ involves an agonizingly long asylum case, and when that observer is relegated to a space of unbelonging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-24
Number of pages14
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Philosophy
  • Linguistics and Language


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