Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Indianizing Film

Indianizing Film: Decolonization, the Andes, and the Question of Technology

Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 296
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Indianizing Film
    Book Description:

    Latin American indigenous media production has recently experienced a noticeable boom, specifically in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Colombia.Indianizing Filmzooms in on a selection of award-winning and widely influential fiction and docudrama shorts, analyzing them in the wider context of indigenous media practices and debates over decolonizing knowledge. Within this framework, Freya Schiwy approaches questions of gender, power, and representation.

    Schiwy argues that instead of solely creating entertainment through their work indigenous media activists are building communication networks that encourage interaction between diverse cultures. As a result, mainstream images are retooled, permitting communities to strengthen their cultures and express their own visions of development and modernization.Indianizing Filmencourages readers to consider how indigenous media contributes to a wider understanding of decolonization and anticolonial study against the universal backdrop of the twenty-first century.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-4713-8
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. Introduction The Question of Technology
    (pp. 1-32)

    The film and video training center CEFREC (Centro de Formación y Realización Cinematográfica) in Bolivia recently published on its homepage an image of the Quechua media activist Marcelina Cárdenas in traditional festive attire pointing a camcorder at the viewer (fig. 1).¹

    CEFREC’s homepage brings together culturally diverse indigenous video makers from distinct geographical and climatic regions. A young boy from the lowlands rises from the Andean hills and trains his camcorder on Cárdenas, a middle-aged video maker from Potosí whose body dominates the river land in the foreground. Her camera points beyond the frame, at once interpellating us, the viewers,...

  5. 1 Indigenous Media and the Politics of Knowledge
    (pp. 33-62)

    Indigenous media centers have emerged in multiple settings throughout Latin America. Although indigenous peoples in Brazil number less than 1 percent, the Brazilian nongovernmental organization Video in the Villages (Video Nas Aldeias) and the Kayapo’s use of video are perhaps most familiar to readers elsewhere. The founder of Video in the Villages, Vincent Carelli, started making video with Waiãpi Indians in 1990. Since then he has worked with Nambiquara, Xavante, Waiãpi, and Ashaninka video makers and collaborated with anthropologists Virginia Valadão and Dominque Gallois, and with filmmakers Tutu Nunes and Mari Correa (Carelli, n.p.). Video makers like the Xavante Caimi...

  6. 2 Casting New Protagonists
    (pp. 63-84)

    The question “Who is actually making these films?” comes up frequently when indigenous media are screened outside the communities and the indigenous film festival circuits. The question points to a doubt generated in part by the apparent temporal clash between indigenous bodies and digital video technology that the images in figures 1 and 2 bring to the forefront. The doubt over whether these are really indigenous peoples making the films also indicates the desire to determine authorship and creative origin, and perhaps meaning as well. This interest in the authorship of joint projects is not new. The critical debates over...

  7. 3 Cinematic Time and Visual Economy
    (pp. 85-108)

    Does the proliferation of audiovisual media among indigenous communities respond to a change in the way literacy, literary representation, and power have congealed in Latin America? Urban elites in Latin America have enacted power relations by constructing an opposition between the realm of literacy and civilization, on the one hand, and the rural expanses inhabited by oral cultures, on the other. The opposition is at once spatial and temporal, where oral culture has become associated with stasis and literacy with progress and development. The Argentine Domingo Faustino Sarmiento famously called this the clash between civilization and barbarism. Already in the...

  8. 4 Gender, Complementarity, and the Anticolonial Gaze
    (pp. 109-138)

    When viewing indigenous fiction and documentary films, it is striking how often they frame women as cultural guardians and men as the victims of the self-denigrating effects of colonial discourse. Documentaries and fiction shorts highlight the way cultural practices, religious beliefs, and knowledge are transmitted in embodied ways. Women become the symbolic bearers of indigenous identification; they are the ones with privileged access to indigenous languages, stories, and ethos; they are the ones transmitting social memory. Even ethnically marked clothing is frequently (but not exclusively) associated with women rather than men. In the fiction shorts men often appear as those...

  9. 5 Nature, Indians, and Epistemic Privilege
    (pp. 139-162)

    As a film form, documentary is closely linked to the lettered city’s production of knowledge. It can provide information about the sociohistorical world or become part of scientific research that is made public and directed at an audience of nonexperts. Ethnographic documentaries derive their power to define what is in front of the lens from this contextual inscription of the documentary form into the realm of news and pedagogy. Yet, like fiction films, the documentary has been instrumental to the construction of the colonial gaze. It tends to enthrall and convince its audience because it is armed with what Bill...

  10. 6 Specters and Braided Stories
    (pp. 163-184)

    When Stanley Aronowitz spoke of cinema being the paradigmatic art form of late capitalism in the 1970s, he implied that the very technology itself, the succession of images in time, replicated and helped to constitute the rhythm of capitalist production. The moving image masked its production; it produced the memory of historical events as a montage sequence of images. Like other commodities, Aronowitz argued, film thus contributes to forgetting the actual agents of production (115–16). Aronowitz sets the stage for exploring how far films can break with their own fetishism. He asks, “Can the film be anything but the...

  11. 7 Indigenous Media and the Market
    (pp. 185-211)

    As if visualizing the Quechua/Aymara moral imperative—ama sua, ama lulla, ama kella(do not steal, do not lie, do not be lazy)—labor is an overwhelming presence in CEFREC-CAIB’s videos.¹ Sowing, harvesting, herding, spinning, weaving, cooking, and childcare are regular chores. They form the backdrop to the narrative plots ofVest Made of Money, Forest Spirit, Loving Each Other in the Shadows, Overcoming Fear, andQati qati. Many indigenous video documentaries and fictions explicitly criticize the desire to become part of a global, capitalist economy based on maximizing profits.Qati qatielaborately represents a self-sufficient Aymara household that relies...

  12. Afterword
    (pp. 212-222)

    With Ecuador’s indigenous organizations deposing two presidents in the last decade, and with Aymara Indian Evo Morales’s election to the Bolivian presidency in 2006, much scholarly discussion has centered on the relation between indigenous movements and the state. The state and the Colombian constitution of 1991, which acknowledges the pluricultural makeup of the nation, are also the major referents in the study of Colombian indigenous movements, together with their negotiation of the violent civil war between guerrillas, paramilitary and government troops, and the U.S. war on drugs.¹ Bridging social sciences and political theory with cultural studies, one might also look...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 223-248)
    (pp. 249-266)
    (pp. 267-272)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 273-282)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 283-284)