Soc 187 Part II
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- Subject, African Culture, becomes the object.
- Filmmaker acknowledges their POV and becomes subjective interpreter.
- Involved in, and interacting with, and directly acknowledging ethnographic setting.
- Eg. Peck’s Lumumba
- Subjective experience
- What it is like to be someone else
- Interviews, subjects “speak about themselves,” claim non-expert knowledge
- Social/political realities may affect the speaker’s message, altering the “truth”
- Eg. “Lost Boys” movie
- First prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo. After independence from Belgium, he insists on free, total, economic, non-bourgeois independence from Belgium, Europe, US.
- Asks for assistance from Soviets in 1960. Katanga secessionists get help from US. In order to protect regional interests and oppose USSR. CIA orders his assassination.
- Advocates for peaceful revolution. Stresses importance of transcending racial divides. Seeks unity within Congo and with Europeans. Looks to future of Africa. Fights for the people. Writes to his wife that he knows he is personally doomed.Lumumba kidnapped and murdered in 1971 by friend and head of army, Mubuto, who becomes dictator for next 32 years.
- Director of “Lumumba.” Uses the reflexive mode. While telling story of Lumumba, he uses meta commentary of his own life.
- Like Rouche, Peck is self-aware of subjective perspective. He willingly puts himself in the film; he cannot be accused of bias because he admits to preconceptions.
- He makes a film about Lumumba, and his own childhood spent in Congo. He is educated by Haitian, French-speaking tutors. His parents are also Haitian, so he is able to selectively identify as an outsider or African. Peck is aware of privilege, and he feels guilt for Lumumba’s struggle and death.
- During Mubuto’s 30 year dictatorship after assassinating Lumumba, the film-maker's memory has lapses, “black holes,” which are filled in during the creation of film.
- Politics of forgetting - the “black holes” of memory, state censorship, and subjectivity are discussed in Hothchild reader.
- Filming in Brussels underscores message that oppression is present anywhere.
- Film takes qualities of historical documentary, experimental or surrealist styles, and a video-diary. It rejects objectivity and impartiality through the representation of Peck as subject-object relating to Lumumba.
The "I" narrator
Aspect of Peck's Lumumba and the reflexive mode. First person POV gives directors a narrative voice. This allows them to build their own identities in relation to the diaspora subjects. Identities are blurred, parallels drawn, and poetic elements used to place director in equal importance with the subject of films.
“Ces Trous Noirs”
Denied access to filming Congo, Peck creates a documentary to fill in black holes or forbidden images, which remain in his head. He fills gaps in his memory since leaving the Congo in his childhood, and learning of its history through his mother. Mobutu is afraid of these gaps, denying Peck entry; Peck speculates whether these "black holes are more corrosive than the images that they hide." Viewer seeks to know about Peck, his relation to the subject, and what the black holes hide. Voices an allegory which starts with director refused entry to Zaire. This gives the challenge of visiting sites as a proxy to exploring the country in question. Poetry transcends the need for real images. "Real documentaries" are shown to lack credibility; they praise Mobutu and the Belgians and portray Lumumba as a traitor.
- Chief of army and close friend of Lumumba who eventually sees to his assassination, paid for by CIA. Visits Kennedy and other presidents, maintaining ties with US, while ruling as dictator for the next 30+ years. Receives billions in aid; reliable anti-Communist ally in return for US.
- Propaganda legitimizes rule in government-owned media. Aid goes to Mobutu and mining companies at expense of Congolese. Corruption and financial difficulty in the Congo
- Mubuto decides to just print a new currency. This is rejected and it leads to riots. Chaos ensues. Mobutu overthrown in 1997 after enjoying $4 billion in personal wealth, and much of it is aid money.Imperialism as much of a factor in Congolese oppression as Mobutu's dictatorship, which is comparable to Leopold's.
- Retired diplomat, stumbles on an old article in a Liberian newspaper reporting ten million deaths while Congo is ruled by the Belgian King Leopold.
- Investigates and researches scrupulously; Leopold’s furnaces burned his records of atrocities for 8 days. Denied access to many records, although they are 70 years old, due to harm to Belgium's reputation.
- Discovers truth in African witness testimony and records. Studies files of businesses, missions, private records.
- Killed millions of the colonized Congolese, exploiting country for rubber, and forcing them to work. Many are dismembered.
- Belgian officials went to great lengths to destroy incriminating evidence from historical record. "I'll give them my Congo, but they have no right to know what I did there." Records burnt at royal palace and the Congo.
- Written about in Josef Conrad’s Heart of Darkness; subject of “King Leopold’s Ghost”
Belgian Settlement of Congo
- Profited from exploitation of labor and extraction of rubber. Under King Leopold, over 10 million Congolese died in brutal conditions. Chopping off hands a common practice. Leopold later destroys these records.
- Truth hidden from world and within Congo. Colonizers wrote schoolbooks of Africans, and they all praised Leopold in the Congo. Few memories remain in villages of "white man's war."
- Sengier finds and mines uranium ore, has no knowledge of the radioactive material, but brings it to the US on a boat and stockpiles it in a warehouse in Manhattan. He then floods the mine.
- US officials coincidentally working on the Manhattan Project, and searching for uranium, stumble upon Sengier. Sengier reopens the mine and the US extracts 30k tons of a lesser grade ore. This was used for the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and is still stockpiled today.
- Shinkolobwe mine was just recently closed in January 2004 and supposedly sealed. However, artisanal mining by cartels threaten dangerous exposure and trade on the black market, potentially to nations who are state sponsors of terror.
Gender and AIDS in Africa
- Almost 20% of girls HIV+ compared to 7% of boys.
- Women mostly viewed as whores or mothers to be blamed for prostitution or transmitting disease to newborns. Blamed also for 'polluting influence' of having sex with men,.
- UNAIDS director calls it a "woman's epidemic." Economically, socially, institutional marginalization of women leaves them vulnerable.
- Physiological factors - higher concentration of HIIV in semen than vaginal fluid makes it 2-4x more likely to be passed. STDs are less symptomatic and less often treated due to poor access and stigma towards women. Trying to conceive, sometimes when sterile, can lead to greater sexual activity. Pregnancy can accelerate HIV.
- Social causes for disparity –
- o Women have too little power to insist on condoms or to abandon risky partnerships.
- o Publicly, women are on dependent on men, with less access to income and wealth. Domestic work has low market value, and education is often denied.
- o Sexual relations further dependence; sex is a currency for life opportunity for females.
- o Females are passive towards sex and male infidelity. Pleasure is for males; protection of females given in exchange.
- o Marriage exposes women to AIDS, often leaving them widowed as it progresses faster in males.
- o Divorcees and widows face economic hardship, turn to commercial sex, and in turn face greater blame.
- Collective community action; rethink discourses and expected behavior of men and women which increase transmission; change structural context.
- Medical approaches neglect social issues. To scientifically monitor the problem does not stop spread. Many lack basic access to nutrition and medical care. Enabling environments are thus required, in order to change policies and laws, increase equity, and help women.
- Women's groups may harness existing organizations to empower women. Group consensus may discuss issues such as condom use and negotiations.
- Gender relations can be improved to increase knowledge, negotiating power, self-esteem, and cooperation instead of control of women.
- Not referring simply to orphans who have AIDS; although mothers may transmit the disease in childbirth.
- AIDS cripples families: less symptomatic in males, spreading to unprotected females, and passed along to mothers, leaving children unprotected
- Impact of AIDS on household:
- reduced income/productivity- lost male income
- reliance on community- female unprotected
- medical and funeral costs- often consume remaining savings
- poor health of survivors- most likely HIV positive
- dissolution of household- kids unaffordable, sent to stay with relatives
- grief of survivors
Second Civil War in Sudan
- Peace is broken between North and South Sudan, after the first conflict is settled in 1972, granting the South autonomy and control over national resources.
- From 1983-2005, 2 million people killed, 4 million displaced.
- 2005 agreement between North Sudan and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement. A planned referendum in 2011 granted South autonomy, but conflict continues.
Lost Boys of Sudan
- Result of Second Civil War in Sudan. Attacks from Muslim North to Christian and Animist South mainly targeted Dinka people.
- Young children separated from parents flee the attacks. Travelled to Kenya, Ethiopia, other countries. Faced the desert, starvation, thirst, lions, kidnapping, and other trials.
- 3,800 Lost Boys came to US in 2001. They struggle to culturally adapt, support themselves, and send help to their families at home. Many have become disillusioned with America.
- “The Other”; represents primitivism; kidnapped and put on display, then posthumously scientifically studied, before finally having remains returned.
- In category of “human curiosity,” displayed to audience when alive, advertised as the “Hottentot Venus.” More comparable to a rare live specimen than to the trafficking of animals than slaves. Given poor conditions and pay, soon dies.
- As a scientific specimen, autopsied by Cuvier to discover essential African difference. Classified as close as possible to an ape. He studies her private organs and describes them at length.
- Artifact displayed in museum, arranged to face away from viewer, showing her rear. Museum simulates “objective” study of her sex: the skin is recreated from corpse; she is almost nude, focusing on her sexual organs; photographs of Khoikhoi people above her head. Exhibited criticized for scientific racism.
- Symbolized as a “political prisoner,” Sara becomes the center of a movement to repatriate her remains and reclaim image of the black female body.
- According to Qureshi in Reader, Sara's case is not all that unusual. Many other “human curiosities existed, and her race did not cause a unique sensation. Yet the political significance continues to lend to her cultural status, eg. Lyle Ashton Harris' Venus Hottentot 2000.
- Models in Lyle Ashton Harris' “Venus Hottentot 2000.”
- Stares directly at the viewer, wearing metal prosthetic breasts and buttocks.
- In response to debasement and objectification, the representation is supposed to lead to reappropriation
- In relation to modern black sexuality, Sara is depicted as the objectified ancestor; she is still politicized.
- 95% of documentaries(figuratively)
- Emotional soundtrack
- “Voice of God” Narration, eg. James Earl Jones
- “Characters” with little depth or development
- Emotionally charged, underscored by soundtrack
- Structured narrative
- Inspirational/triumphant, at the expense of complexity. Eg. Kony 2012.
- Takes elements of fictional films, dramas, eg. “Out of Africa”
Valentino Achak Deng
- Author of “What is the What,” Lost Boy who struggles to find a new life in the US.
- Robbed and tied up in the US, has possessions stolen, reflects on his experiences as a lost boy, and his suffering does not end; disillusionment in US, and struggle to come to terms with the past.
Isak Dineson, aka Karen Bixen
- Mythic Consciousness - Egocentric, god-like role of Dineson in “Out of Africa.” She shifts perspective as colonist to see the mutual dependency between the colonial and the African; yet she will not fully give up her superior role to “her” Gikuya squatters.
- Married to husband Bror Blixen, a philanderer. Falls in love with Denys Hatton.
- She contracts syphilis in Africa, is estranged from her husband, and turns her efforts and attention to her farm and servants. Her liberal perspective is odd in contrast to the other colonists.
- At first participates in safaris, but turns against killing lions and instead advocates for photo safaris.
British Settlement of Kenya
- Kenya is fairly recently colonized, in the past 100 years, for the sake of building a railroad for Ugandan mining. It was settled by the British mainly to keep Germany ou, and subsequently turned into a white man’s paradise, pushing out the Gikuyu
- Crown Land Ordinance of 1902 and a British court ruling in 1921 parcel out the land in Kenya, including reserves. It becomes a cross-cultural hub, as well as a center for libertine aristocrats to express sexual desires.
- Exploit the Gikuyu people as “squatters” on their own land.
- Taxes could only be paid in cash, so Africans had to earn wages through labor. When these taxes are insufficient, even less land is made available so Africans cannot manage to be self-sufficient. Cash crops such as coffee, tobacco, and cotton were prohibited.
- Population in Kenya goes from 4-2.5 million
Kamante and Farah
- Kamante is the Kikuyu servant and cook of Isak Dineson.
- · Farah is the Somali manager; it is rare for Africans to take authority position. Somalis are classified as Asian. Farah is in charge of money, and is trusted to make financial decisions.
Dineson’s loyalty to her servants labels her a "nigger-lover" by colonial contemporaries. She generously provides food, shelter, and wrk to the natives, until she is no longer considered a stranger, according to Kamante. She is also present at the birth of Farah's son, and is involved with daily life. Isak does not distance herself.
African “reserves” was not farmable, so Gikuyu leave and settle on White territories, becoming tenant farmers.
“Squatting” Gikuyu were allowed to “settle” on their own land as long as they worked for half the year for the British, and additionally paid half their wages in taxes.
Superiority of British does not lead to a paternalistic duty to care for the Africans.
Mau Mau Rebellion from 1954-1960 begins African uprisings, as they rise and attack settlers, initiating independence movement across Africa.
Rugged love affair of Karen/Isak Dineson, sharing an intellectual rapport and instilling a love of African landscape
Flies over Africa, symbolizing spirituality and freedom; eventually dies in plane crash.
African landscape mirrors the ruggedness, beauty, and danger of Dennis. Isak’s love affair is with Africa and the flighty Hatton, neither of which can be truly owned.
Describes attempts of Mayers Ranch site; portraying the Maasai in an apparently objective manner by hiding signs of production. Maasai are directed to make their performance seem natural, as if tourists just happen to be there, and play the role of 19th century tribesman. While some spoke English, they remain mute.
Government feels this is exploitative and shuts down Mayers site. Provided "imperialist nostalgia."
By contrast, Bomas performance gives feeling of well-produced show.
Portrays Africa as a product to be consumed by outsiders; the African land is an Eden that serves for escapism and safaris, rather than to be managed by the people living there. Africans act in the service of non-African tourists or settlers.
Eg. Kenya, and the Gikuyu people
A site in Kenya studied by Bruner. Ranch is built by British Mayers family, and tourist business is created to increase their income.
Development, green lawns emerging from mud huts and brown dust, symbolizes contrasting British "civilization" in Africa. The lawn is a sanctuary for tourists.
Tour includes a privately produced performance organized by local entrepreneurs.
Transportation requires 50 minutes by car over dirt roads.
Staged Authenticity - Production includes chanting and carrying spears, and hides outside influences and manufactured objects. Presents these Maasai as timeless and ahistorical. Show is carefully produced, with no signs of modernity in the show, and only handmade Maasai objects are sold as souvenirs. Set up from a colonial subject position, provides 19th century narrative of strong warriors.
Shut down as it is offensive to many Kenyans. Ultimately disrespectful and invasive to Maasai people, catering to tourist desires to observe a frozen, primitive, colonialist portrayal.
Genre is tourist realism.
Maasai on the Mara
Contain the National Reserve, location of the Sundowner site, with the main attraction is to view the Maasai and the local game from safari vehicles.
Part owners of the tourist industry, receiving a share of profits; in the past all income went to foreign investors and Kenyan elite.
Part ownership has given incentive to stop poaching to protect interests. Poachers may be killed on sight.
Maasai employed at the Kichwa Tembo safari camp receive profits from selling crafts, posing for pictures, performing, and being employed as cooks, waiters, guards, and managers. In these jobs, the Maasai are expected to act deferentially or stay unseen.
Out of Africa Sundowner
One of three sites portraying the Maasai, it is advertised by tour agencies as a party at the tented safari camp near the Masai Mara National Reserve. Meant to share experience of Denisen and Finch-Hatton.
Taking a charter aircraft, one crosses from Tanzania to Kenya without experiencing any difference between these countries.
Provides a nice show instead of staged authenticity. Cocktail party mixes the Maasai performers with tourists, with a bar and a buffet located on a river bank in the bush. After eating, Maasai come out smiling and dancing with tourists and then handing out souvenirs. Merging provides no separation between Kenyans and tourists, unlike Mayers Ranch.
American culture, not African, is reproduced and presented to make tourists feel safe and welcome. Songs welcome the tourists, featuring in the popular "Jambo Bwana" the Swahili phrase "Hakuna Matata." Then there is a performance of "Kum Ba Yah" with Jamaican reggae rhythm.
Maasai performers are daily wage laborers.
Swahili, means "no worries, no problem."
During turmoil in Uganda, the phrase reassured refugees and citizens of nearby Kenya that it was safe. The phrase is used in a song called "Jambo Bwana" by the group Them Mushrooms; then used in The Lion King in a song played by Elton John.
Performed at Out of Africa Sundowner.
Tourists express doubts about the veracity of what they are seeing. Questions and skepticism penetrate the commercial presentation, undermining the producer's dominant narrative.
Tourists do not merely look on, but have agency to question what they see. There are doubts it all three sites.
- In Bomas, intellectuals question both authenticity and validity of nationalistic message.
- At Mayers, tourists wonder if Maasai are "for real," or if they are being exploited.
- At Sundowner, the separation of flying over Africa may be broken when rich tourists are confronted with local poverty.
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