Skateboarder and photographer, Mr
Christopher da Canha.

Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS) graduate, skateboarder and photographer, Mr Christopher da Canha, has had his article titled: “Subcultural Ethnography and the case for Dogtown and Z-boys”, published in Film Matters, an internationally acclaimed, peer-reviewed journal.

Da Canha’s article appraises the documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys, and re-evaluates it under the guidelines of ethnographic film. ‘I was interested in whether a documentary that was not created for ethnographic purposes could nonetheless be understood in those terms.’

Da Canha said it took several years to get the article published. ‘I think an email address change as well as moving first to the United States, and then South Korea, delayed communication for several months.

‘So receiving an email with not much precedent and the final product at hand, was a pleasant surprise for me – I’m stoked the article was published.

‘Writing was suffused with something dear to me: skateboarding. Being able to write about what I found interesting, and to be recognised for it, has been a validating experience.’ 

UKZN’s Professor Keyan Tomaselli said the project and the paper were of direct interest to the Department of Economic Development and Tourism in the Northern Cape, which regularly hosts the skateboarding world championships. According to Tomaselli, the study informed the Department about the link between skateboarding and tourism.

Da Canha believes that the CCMS’s connections with other academic institutions helped the article get published. ‘CCMS was able to put me in touch with Film Matters, and shepherd our relations. They were also willing to hear me out about the article which was decidedly different in nature from a lot of the other work being produced by my peers at the time.

‘I had the sense that while most of my peers were happy to take on the coursework, few even tried injecting their personal interests into the process. CCMS was tolerant in my case, and it lead to the article being published.’

Da Canha’s second solo photography exhibition titled Lonely Hearts, features photos of street scenes across East Asia.