Amateur Media and Participatory Cultures: Film, Video, and Digital Media, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Amateur Media and Participatory Cultures

Film, Video, and Digital Media, 1st Edition

By Annamaria Motrescu-Mayes, Susan Aasman


164 pages

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Amateur Media and Participatory Cultures aims to delineate the boundary line between today’s amateur media practice and the canons of professional media and film practice. Identifying various feasible interpretative frameworks, from historical to anthropological perspectives, the volume proposes a critical language able to cope with amateur and new media’s rapid technological and interpretative developments.

Conscious of the fact that amateur media continue to be seen as the benchmark of visual records of authentic rather than mass-media-derived events, Annamaria Motrescu-Mayes and Susan Aasman pay particular attention to the ways in which diverse sets of concepts of amateur media have now merged across global visual narratives and everyday communication protocols. Building on key research questions and content analysis in media and communication studies, they have assessed differences between professional and amateur media productions based on the ways in which the ‘originators’ of an image have been influenced by, or have challenged, their context of production. This proposes that technical skills, degrees of staging and/or censoring visual information, and patterns in media socialisation define central differences between professional and amateur media production, distribution and consumption.

The book’s methodical and interdisciplinary approach provides valuable insights into the ways in which visual priming, cultural experiences and memory-building are currently shaped, stored and redistributed across new media technologies and visual channels.


As one of the founders of this new field of research, I can vouch that we’ve been all waiting for this type of book on amateur media. The authors have carefully considered the last decades of research done on the theme of amateur media practice, from home movie making to digital and online productions, and raised pertinent theoretical issues as well as opened new research avenues. A timely and important book.

Professor Roger Odin, Emeritus Professor of Information Sciences and Communication at Paris 3 – Sorbonne Nouvelle.

This fiercely original book widens amateur media cartographies by recalibrating with interdisciplinary methodologies, global visualities, and participatory media platforms. It insists amateurism is not marginal, but ubiquitous as its variegated practices migrate across histories, ethics, counterhistories, archives, technologies. A massively significant, daring, rigorous, and field-changing intervention into amateur media studies.

Patricia R. Zimmermann, Professor of Screen Studies, Ithaca College, USA

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. From marginal to mainstream: a history of amateur media

Chapter 2. Everyday complexities and contradictions in contemporary amateur media

Chapter 3. The non-ephemeral amateur media and constructions of self

Chapter 4. The politics of ethical representation in amateur media

Chapter 5. Memory and amateur media’s visual counter-histories

Chapter 6. Lost and found: amateur media in the archive


About the Authors

Annamaria Motrescu-Mayesis an Affiliated Lecturer in new and digital media at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge; Fellow and Tutor at Clare Hall; and a member of the Cambridge Digital Humanities Network and the Centre for the Study of Global Human Movement. She is the author of Visual Histories of South Asia (co-edited with Marcus Banks, 2017) and of British Women Amateur Filmmakers: National Memories and Global Identities (with Heather Norris Nicholson, 2018), and has written extensively on the theme of colonial amateur film practice and imperial studies. Motrescu-Mayes is also the founder of the Amateur Cinema Studies Network.

Susan Aasman is Associate Professor at the Media Studies Department and Director of the Centre for Digital Humanities at the University of Groningen. Her field of expertise is in media history, with a particular interest in amateur film and documentaries, digital culture and digital archives, web history and digital history. She was a senior researcher in the research project 'Changing Platforms of Ritualised Memory Practices: The Cultural Dynamics of Home Movie Making' (2012–2016). Together with Andreas Fickers and Jo Wachelder, Susan has co-edited Materializing Memories: Dispositifs, Generations, Amateurs (2018).

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies