Michael Lawrence

'Activism under occupation: the unique challenges in seeking social justice in Palestine'

27 November 2015
Jessop West Seminar Room 8

This presentation examined the function of photographic images, practices and technologies in two recent family-oriented representations of family-managed zoos, the Hollywood feature film We Bought A Zoo (Cameron Crowe, 2011) and the BBC television series Our Zoo (2014), both of which are based on true stories. Drawing on the work of Marianne Hirsch (Family Frames, 1997).

Michael Lawrence analyses the function of the ‘family album’ in these ‘feel-good’ entertainments, in which the opening or reopening of a zoo serves a thoroughly therapeutic experience for the family involved. The focus on the well-being of the human family functions to distract viewers from what Lisa Uddin (Zoo Renewal, 2015) has called ‘bad zoo feelings,’ the despair or disappointment so often experienced when animals are exhibited to the public. Zoos increasingly utilise photographs—both official and amateur—to promote their activities, via digital applications such as Flickr and Instagram. This presentation also addressed the problematic correspondences between zoos and photographic technologies—from slideshows to screensavers—exposed by Michael's case studies.

Michael Lawrence

Michael Lawrence is Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Sussex. He is the author of Sabu (BFI, 2014), the co-editor, with Laura McMahon, of Animal Life and the Moving Image (BFI, forthcoming 2015) and the co-editor, with Karen Lury, of Zoos and Screen Media: Images of Exhibition and Encounter (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming 2016). His articles have appeared in Screen, Adaptation and Journal of British Cinema and Television. He is currently researching the resourcing and representation of cattle in Hollywood westerns.