Unsettling narrative(s): Film making as an anthropological lens on an artist-led project exploring LGBT+ recovery from substance use


  • Alastair Roy University of Central Lancashire
  • Amanda Ravetz Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Mark Prest Portraits of Recovery


LGBT recovery, undergoing, filmmaking, narrative, art


This paper explores My Recoverist Family, a film in which each of us had a different role: as an anthropological filmmaker (Amanda), the commissioner of the project and participant within it (Mark); and an audience member and critic (Ali). The film shows a group of LGBT+ people using art to explore recovery from substance use with reference to their biographies and wider social issues. The paper interrogates the interaction of visual and performing arts and storytelling in touching, articulating and representing the film’s main focus - the injustices of LGBT+ people. Using the idea of unsettling narrative(s), we analyse how the filmmakers privilege exploration over explanation, and glimpsed momentary understandings over narrative coherence, explanation, and denouement. In order to align the writing process with the filmmaking methodology (influenced by anthropologist Tim Ingold’s understanding of the creativity of undergoing), we utilised a methodological tool that Ali contributed to developing called the scenic composition. We argue that the paper’s significance is both substantive and methodological: artistically metabolised narratives make it possible to complicate “the stories being listened for”; this, in turn, begins to dismantle the binaries around which much current addiction treatment policy and practice are constructed.

Author Biographies

Amanda Ravetz, Manchester Metropolitan University



Mark Prest, Portraits of Recovery