The EA:RTH research group and the social anthropology seminar series of the Department of Social Sciences (ISV) and the Research Group on Sámi Research SAMFORSK, University Museum (UMAK) are hosting: Prof. Alison Griffiths’ Lecture
9th of June 2023 Time: 10:15 - 12:00
Venue: E-0101 auditorium, Breivika HLS
This lecture considers amateur cinema as a site of Indigenous history and counter-memory, capable of activating meanings that challenge the status of home movies as films without public value. I examine 1920s/30s amateur films made at the Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial (ITIC), an annual multi-day celebration of Native American culture that began in 1922 in Gallup, New Mexico and continues to this day. These remarkable films, consisting of fragments of family vacation recordings interspersed with footage of the ITIC, raise important questions about the cultural ownership of polyvalent films. With the help of a Diné (Navajo) research assistant, and the support of various stakeholders, I conducted oral history interviews about these films with Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members at the Octavia Fellin Public Library in Gallup; excerpts from the films were also shown on a loop at an exhibit celebrating the ITIC’s centennial at the Rex Museum, thus reaching a broader audience.
I explore the ethical responsibilities of returning nonfiction films (both institutionally-sponsored and home movies) featuring Indigenous peoples to source communities, in so doing, redefining notions of film rights by thinking capaciously and generatively about shifting use value. How amateur films can be repatriated, re-imagined, and re-cared for by new interlocutors in new discursive frameworks is at the center of this investigation, grounded in a broader praxis of decolonizing the archive, defamiliarizing and destabilizing both commercial colonial films and more obscure, forgotten movies. In critically evaluating amateur cinema’s ability to retell history from the perspective of lost, suppressed, or marginalized voices, I explore ways in which these films help recuperate Indigenous memory, agency, and subjectivity, complicating our understanding of cultural history, and raising vital questions about ownership, access, and film rights.
Alison Griffiths is a Distinguished Professor of film and media at Baruch College and the CUNY Graduate Center. She has published three monographs on early ethnographic cinema, immersion, and carceral media (all from Columbia University Press). Her forthcoming book, the research for which was supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2018, is Nomadic Cinema: A Cultural Geography of the Expedition Film. She was recently awarded a Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Arctic Studies to Norway, where she will be undertaking research on early representations of Indigenous Sámi at the National Library of Norway in Oslo.
The lecture is in English. Welcome!
Prof. Peter I. Crawford and Associate Prof. Rossella Ragazzi