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CFS SPR18 MisRepresenting Slavery W15

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Julie Jenkins

on 7 February 2018

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Transcript of CFS SPR18 MisRepresenting Slavery W15

Representing Slavery
"...victim subjects...cannot accommodate a
multi-layered experience." (Kapur, p. 6)
generalizations erase over diversity in perspective and political concerns of people marginalized because of their class, race, religion, ethnicity and/or sexual orientation.
Problems of cultural essentialism & discourse of "victims of culture"
Why do these (mis)representations occur?
"This form of human rights media utilizes symbols, images, and stories of suffering in such a way as to form identification with the suffering of an 'other' and thereby emotionally engage and persuade their audiences of a cause's moral worth. Through this process, we as viewers become connected to a political project and can be moved to action" McLagen
reinforces simplistic, stereotyped and racist representations
while privileging the West.
"It is called Trokosi and it means wife or slave of the gods. It is an
ancient West African tradition
that to this day enslaves thousands of women and young girls, some as young as 7 years old. They are condemned to a life of slave labour and sexual servitude, not because they did anything wrong, but because someone in their family committed a crime sometimes generations ago and to pay for the crimes, their families must send young virgins to be the slaves of
priests, often for the rest of their lives”. (CBS 60 Minutes)
"I don't know how many times I've wished I've never heard that damn word"
- Raymond Williams
What are the consequences?
clouds our ability to understand and gather better ethnographic information to inform policy
makes it more difficult to determine what is and what isn't slavery
legitimizes problematic interventions
loss of agency
lack of freedom
What does Kapur highlight about the problems of representation and of the "victimization rhetoric"?
What do these images not allow us to examine?
I need a hero
I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night
He's gotta be strong, he's gotta be fast
And he's gotta be fresh from the fight
I need a hero
I'm holding out for a hero 'til the morning light
He's gotta be sure, he's gotta be soon
And he's gotta be larger than life, larger than life

--"erasure of the initiatives of the oppressed"
--racial, national, and gender implications of the hero narrative
"'A culture' need not be homogeneous, or even particularly coherent. Instead of assuming far-reaching cultural sharing, a 'replication of uniformity', we should take a distributive view of cultures as systems of
meaning...(look at culture) in more processual terms. There is a 'management of meaning' by which culture is generated and maintained, transmitted and received, applied, exhibited, remembered, scrutinised and experimented with." - Hannerz 1982
culture changes; it always has & always will
created by social actors who have differential access to power, economic & social resources
shapes and is shaped by economic and political structures
Who then, defines? Who has the power to define?
These are NOT innocent
"Discourse is also practice; it is not simply a way of understanding or thinking about the world, it is also a way of acting in it" (Walley 1994)
What problematic interventions have resulted from a poor understanding of the situation in the Dominican Republic?
"At stake is the difference between believing what we see and seeing what we believe" (Martinez)
What were your thoughts on the film?
What problems with representation does Martinez highlight?
Full transcript