MDST 419/ENSP 419 (Schedule # 4058H/406DZ)
University of Virginia
Spring 2009
T 5-7:30pm :: Cabell B031
Mr. David Golumbia
Office: 449 New Cabell Hall
Spring 2009 Office Hours: T 3:30-4:45pm; R 12:30-1:45pm

Global Indigenous Media

The retreat of empire in the early part of the 20th century, the emergence of liberal internationalism (especially via the United Nations), and the rise of so-called globalization in more contemporary times, have entailed an implicit rethinking of the mindset according to which some groups were thought to be "more civilized" or "more advanced" than others. While such thinking may be relatively straightforward to apply to denizens of major cities across the world, it becomes more complex when global cosmpolitans look toward what they inevitably see as more geographically remote areas. Here we find the groups of people--sometimes in vastly reduced numbers--against whom the dominant cultures of (often, but not exclusively, European) empire defined themselves. Even relatively thin and liberal concepts like Universal Human Rights suggest that it has been wrong to view such groups as historically or culturally prior to others--to put it in terms we will reject in this class and which are largely (but not entirely) rejected in culture today, "primitive." This course will start from exactly the presumption that there are no primitive cultures--that every culture is whole, internally-contested, and responsible--in short, at least potentially, that every culture is "modern" in the precise sense that we have wanted to apply this term only to ourselves.

In this class we will look closely at the media productions of members of groups that we today know under difficult categorizations such as "aboriginal," "indigenous," "tribal," "First Nations," "Native Americans," and "Indians." We will look primarily at media created by members of these groups, and secondarily at media, literature and theory about them. Our attention will be double: we will look at these media objects to learn from and about them, and we will at the same time discuss what we find in this media tells us about the idea of modernity. We will look at media produced by indigenous cultures from around the globe, in hopes of seeing commonalities and differences in them. The class will focus mostly on feature and short films such as, along with a selection of written texts (including works by writers like , and others). . Readings in the emerging area of media studies criticism of indigenous media and anthropology of media, including . Taught primarily via discussion. Presentations, short papers, and a longer final paper. Fulfills second writing requirement. Prerequisites: one prior class in English, Media Studies, Anthropology, or an appropriate topic in another discipline, or permission of instructor. Open to third years and above.

Feature Films

Video and Short Films

Primary Fiction & Nonfiction Texts (available at UVa bookstore or through online bookstores)

Other Media

Criticism and Theory

Assignments and Evaluation

Evaluation will be based on written exercises and course participation as follows:


Week-by-Week Syllabus

Week 1. Introduction: Indigenous Video 1

Week 2. Indigenous Video 2

Week 3. Storyteller

Week 4. Smoke Signals

Week 5. Winter in the Blood

Week 6. Atanarjuat


Week 7. My Life In the Bush of Ghosts

Week 8. Wizard of the Crow

Week 9. Ten Canoes

Week 10. Yang Erche Namu

Week 11. Moolade

Week 12. Contemporary Australian Aboriginal Art and Video

Week 13. Mahasweta Devi

Week 14. New Media

Final paper due by 5pm, Monday, May 4, in my mailbox in the English Department (Bryan Hall second floor faculty lounge). There is no final exam for the course.

Last updated September 9, 2009.