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Dealing With Sri Lanka’s Demons: Using Documentary Film for Peacebuilding

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Nilanjana PremaratnaORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© The Author(s) 2021.Documentary film is a popular resource amongst peacebuilding organisations and practitioners. Despite this popularity, research on documentary film is still emerging in peace and conflict studies. This article explores documentary film’s role in the study and practice of peacebuilding by examining the documentary Demons in Paradise and its engagement with issues of peace and conflict in post-war Sri Lanka. This article makes conceptual, methodological, and empirical contributions. Drawing from empirical research, I identify and discuss documentary film’s engagement along three analytical angles: documentary film as a text, within social processes, and within research processes. Under each angle, I explore how empirical observations and understanding of peace emerge through the visual, using diverse methods and data, including interviews, participant observation, visual elicitation in post-screening focus groups, and film analysis. I conclude that documentary film can contribute to the study and practice of peacebuilding by offering multiple analytical angles that elucidate plural, disparate understandings of peace in post-war societies.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Premaratna N

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Peacebuilding and Development

Year: 2021

Volume: 16

Issue: 1

Pages: 39-54

Print publication date: 01/04/2021

Online publication date: 12/01/2021

Acceptance date: 02/04/2018

Date deposited: 25/11/2021

ISSN (print): 1542-3166

ISSN (electronic): 2165-7440

Publisher: Sage Publications Inc.


DOI: 10.1177/1542316620985756


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