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Publications Archives - Society for Visual Anthropology

Aynur Kadir


October 21, 2016

Multimodal Ethnography and the Possibilities for Engaged Anthropology

October 21, 2016 | By | No Comments

In our scholarship, we strive to strike a balance between anthropological theory-building and social engagement. To do so we use digital technology – inexpensive cameras and social media platforms – in our respective ethnographic projects. Our turn to the digital began during graduate school when we, along with faculty and fellow graduate students, imagined and developed camra. camra is a University of Pennsylvania organization dedicated to multimodal and community engaged research. Here we briefly discuss the ways in which digital technologies provide avenues toward achieving a more collaborative and engaged anthropology. Collaboration has been part and parcel of our discipline since its inception. The digital offers a way to explicitly broaden the scope of collaborative engagement in ways that allow not only for greater participant involvement but also to foster cross-disciplinary projects that put anthropologists in conversation with colleagues in the academy and beyond who grapple with the pressing issues of our time.

Taken from Sweet Tea, portraying E. Patrick Johnson’s performative work on the lives of Black Gay men in the South and his long term relationships with them (2015).
Sweet Tea, portraying E. Patrick Johnson’s performative work on the lives of Black gay men in the South and his long term relationships with them. Photo courtesy Nora Gross

camra was launched in 2011 as a forum connecting graduate students with established scholars interested in legitimizing non-textual production. Our small collective first organized a speaker series followed by a media festival at UPenn that celebrates scholarship at the intersection of ethnography and the audio-visual.  As we developed camra, Philadelphia community-based organizations were eager to learn, partake in and integrate our digital approach to knowledge production. Various institutional actors within and outside of the University of Pennsylvania reached out to us to see if camra members were interested in partnering to create audio-visual work. Projects emerged that allowed camra members to experiment with a digital methodology before they began their dissertation work.

From Dattatreyan’s collaborative film project, Cry Out Loud: Hafes is getting to know the equipment on a wintry day in Delhi (2013).
From Dattatreyan’s collaborative film project, Cry Out Loud: Hafes is getting to know the equipment on a wintry day in Delhi.Photo courtesy E. Gabriel Dattatreyan

In 2013, two camra members developed a filmic and photographic essay on the after-effects of an asbestos plant in Ambler, Pennsylvania (Tarditi and Zuberi). camra members also worked with the Penn School of Design and the Ward to create two short oral history films about Tindley Temple Church, one of the oldest Black Methodist churches in Philadelphia. Other projects that emerged include an HBO-funded short documentary series, two experimental metafilms featuring the travels of a Rastafarian community in South Africa, a PEW-funded film on scientific racism and the Morton Skull collection, the film project Sweet Teabased on E. Patrick Johnson’s performative scholarship concerning the lives of Black gay men in the south and a curated installation in collaboration with Ethnographic Terminalia.

Shankar with students as they begin participatory photography project (2013).
Shankar and students’ participatory photography project. Photo courtesy Naveen Kumar

camra influenced each of our unique audio-visual ethnographic projects as well. In 2012, Dattatreyan began an ethnographic project in Delhi, India with young migrants who were coming of age in an era of post-economic liberalization. He produced several music videos with his youthful participants as well as a feature length film with a group of young Somali refugees, focusing on the racialization of Africans who make the city their home. They screened the film at Khoj Arts in South Delhi to a large audience soon after a series of violent racialized incidents against Africans living in South Delhi. The screening fostered a dialogue around the politics of difference amongst a broad spectrum of South Delhi’s residents. Dattatreyan’s forays into audio-visual projects enabled participant driven ethnographic opportunities, created public discussion around pressing social issues and have fostered ongoing collaborative projects with Delhi based artists and academics around the growing salience of race and racism in urban India.

In 2013, Shankar began research in Bangalore, India working with both NGO personnel and rural youth to understand the changing nature of development. He conducted a participatory film and photography project intended to complicate simplistic representations of village life. Youth in one field site worked in groups of three to articulate what they found curious about their rapidly changing lives. They effectively reversed a dominant gaze that traditionally saw them as impoverished, deficient, and “in-need-of-development” through their playful performances on and off-screen. The collaboration also produced a traveling photography exhibit mounted at their school as well as several university contexts. Shankar’s theoretical insights were heavily influenced by these visual co-productions and shifted how he articulated ideas of aesthetics, auteurship and value.

From Shankar’s participatory photography project: Naveen, ninth standard student, takes shadow selfie against the backdrop of his home (2013).
Naveen, ninth standard student, takes shadow selfie against the backdrop of his home. Photo courtesy Naveen Kumar

Both camra and our work parallel the multimodal turn in anthropology. Ethnography, as a method by which to understand and engage the world, creates opportunities for collaborative knowledge ventures. We suggest that the digital image is opening the aperture of social life in a way not seen before. What we once perceived as bound and local is now clearly saturated with global connection. Here we use aperture and saturation to point to the relationship between the ways we see as anthropologists and the choices we make when we take photographs or film. What our work with camra has pushed us to confront is how our discipline should grow as we explicitly and consciously open its aperture in a media saturated world and strive to consciously integrate ways of seeing that challenge disciplinary understandings while engaging with the pressing problems plaguing our world. Given this, perhaps the question at hand is how we might open the aperture of anthropological knowledge without risking oversaturation. One answer, suggested here, is to consciously integrate the digital into our anthropological imagination, both as theory and practice, an approach that attends to global circulation, audience, collaborative praxis and the ethical and engaged possibilities therein.



camra members included above are Sandra Ristovska, Emily LaDue, Kate Zambon, Shashank Saini, Mariam Durrani, Matt Tarditi, Jabari Zuberi, Tali Ziv, Corrina Laughlin, E. Gabriel Dattatreyan, Nora Gross, Arjun Shankar, Andrew Hudson, Melissa Skolnick

Jens Kreinath and Jennifer Reynolds are the editors for the Society for Visual Anthropology

Kate Hennessy


July 19, 2016

Ethnographic Terminalia 2016, Minneapolis: Workshop ––”The Photo-Essay is Dead! Long live the Photo-Essay!”

July 19, 2016 | By | No Comments

Meetings of the American Anthropology Association, 2016
Minneapolis MN
Thursday, November 17, 2016 9:00-4:00

See our Call for Photo-Essayist Presentations here (deadline August 15th)
General participant registration on the AAA Website will be available soon.
Please send inquiries to

The Ethnographic Terminalia Collective invites submissions by photo-essayists working within an anthropological idiom to present their photo-essays at a full-day workshop at the 2016 AAA Meetings in Minneapolis: “The Photo-Essay is Dead! Long Live the Photo-Essay!” The full-day workshop is designed for creative and engaged participation from both participants and presenters.  It is structured around three sessions each of which features the presentation of a photo-essay, a thought-provoking discussion of photography in Anthropology, and facilitator-led group activity. In the course of the day up to thirty workshop participants and six presenters will collectively contribute to a zine (an open-access and limited print-edition workshop publication) that will be launched and distributed at a reception on Saturday, Nov. 19th. The zine will function not only as a document of the workshop but also a formal object around which we explore the past, present, and future of the photo-essay in Anthropology.

Building on our art-anthropology experiments in off-site locations, this year we return  to the AAA conference site to re-examine the photo-essay within anthropological, photographic, and publishing communities.  Emulating our recent workshop and rapid-publication project (see, the Ethnographic Terminalia Collective invites you to join us in actively considering how experimentations at the intersection of art and anthropology might function as prototypes for thinking about the future of the photographic image in anthropology.  We are all literally publishing at the terminus — the end of publishing agreements, the end of print, the end of things as they have been. How might the photo-essay work as a prototype for collectively envisioning a future of visual anthropology?

Photographs have been a component of anthropological practice since its earliest formation. Their popularity over the past 150 years in monographs, journals, exhibitions, and now on the Internet, has increased dramatically. While photographs seem to be everywhere there has been little serious and sustained critical engagement with modes of presentation and publication in the context of visual anthropology.  For over a decade, the internet has increasingly become a rapid and inexpensive way to share photographs but there is little discussion about the forms in which they appear and how people engage with them. Due partly to cost, the photo-essay has never become prevalent within academic publications. Furthermore there is little clarity around the definition of a photo-essay especially in the context of anthropology. This is precisely what interests us. Our academic conventions for sharing photographs have been cemented around a limited number of typically black and white images in a journal article or monograph. It is only within the last decade that we’ve begun to see anthropological photo-essays published on-line and these often seem to be either ghettoized within the structure of the journal’s website or overlooked by readers unfamiliar with the genre.  Meanwhile within journalism and documentary photography there has been a surge of experiments and formal endeavours.

We believe that still photographs are on the cusp of finding new importance in anthropology in the form of the photo-essay, in particular as the serial nature of photography is being tested out within digital infrastructures on the Internet. For example, the journal Cultural Anthropology recently launched a photo-essay section of their journal; other major journals, now investing in digital infrastructures, are leveraging the Internet to share photographs. How digital forms and cross-disciplinary engagements with photographic representations are re-shaping aesthetic and ethical commitments to the photo essay remains unclear. However, we do know that more and more anthropologists use cameras in the field and many students are keen to study visual methodologies. As a result, the criteria for evaluating their critical and aesthetic contributions have yet to be fully developed. Further, the creative potential for the photo-essay to be realized in new formats and contexts is as yet generally unexplored. Ethnographic Terminalia has had a sustained engagement with contemporary art since 2009; in the workshop, we will  bring artists and anthropologists together to appreciate the degree of sophistication and variety of experiments in what might be loosely considered the photo-essay.

Workshop Structure
Ethnographic Terminalia is committed to serious play; our workshops are carefully designed to foster lively and generative spaces for critical collective exploration of a topic, thesis, or question.  Facilitated by the Ethnographic Terminalia Collective, up to thirty participants and six presenters will work collectively throughout the day to generate the materials for a zine in the form of a rapid prototype publication.  This workshop is organized into three sessions, each with: 1) an essayist exploring their work in the form of a single photo-essay; 2) a provocateur who will critically explore some element of the photo-essay; and 3) facilitated activities and open time for participant reflection on and annotation of works in progress, discussion, and contribution to the workshop publication.

Before the workshop, photo-essayists  and provocateurs will be asked to submit creatively designed page spreads featuring photo-essays and discussions. These will be included in the zine and printed for annotation during the workshop. Participants are also encouraged to print photographs from their own photo-essay works-in-progress and bring them to work with throughout the day.

During the workshop, presenters’ photo-essays will be installed for viewing and annotation. Participants and provocateurs will be invited to add commentary and other ephemera (using photography, photo printers, drawing, social media posts, annotation, and so on) to further contribute to the conversation. These contributions will be documented for inclusion in the publication. Additionally, workshop participants (who are not official presenters) are invited to bring their own photo essays-in-progress to contribute to the workshop activity, and which may be included in the publication.

After the workshop the Ethnographic Terminalia collective will complete the design and layout of the zine.  We will print copies for distribution on Saturday afternoon (Nov. 19th) at the AAA Meetings at a special event and zine launch supported by the Society for Visual Anthropology.  All participants will receive a copy of the zine, as will a limited number of reception attendees. An open access digital copy of the zine will be archived on the Ethnographic Terminalia website. You can see an example of the publication “Terminus: Archives, Ephemera, and Electronic Art” that we produced at our last workshop in Vancouver, British Columbia in 2015.

Kate Hennessy


July 5, 2016

CFP: Documenting the Visual Arts (edited collection; deadline: Nov 1, 2016)

July 5, 2016 | By | No Comments

The proliferation and popularity of visual arts documentaries are a major component of the recent international documentary boom, but they tend to be overlooked in film criticism and scholarship in favor of documentaries framed more explicitly in social and political terms. Yet visual arts documentaries remain on the cutting edge of documentary innovation, from 3D cinema (Cave of Forgotten Dreams) to questioning documentary truths (Exit Through the Gift Shop). Moreover, visual arts documentaries have long played significant roles in various historical formations around documentary politics (e.g. USIA films in the Cold War, the Left Bank essay films of 1950s and Channel Four programming in the 1980s).

This edited collection will examine the significance of visual arts documentaries from a range of critical perspectives and methodologies. The book will explore not only how documentaries from around the globe exploit the formal properties of film and video to illuminate the aesthetic specificities and intersections of other visual arts, but also how they elucidate the material and cultural conditions in which visual arts are produced and experienced (e.g. the discourse of the artist, museums and galleries, activist art, religious practice, commercial design etc.). To complement these interpretative contributions, the book will also include critical analyses of the political economy of visual arts documentaries, especially the geopolitics of the genre. As an interdisciplinary and intermedial project, I am particularly interested in contributions that connect film studies to other disciplines and fields, including anthropology, art history, architecture, communication, rhetoric, performance studies and visual studies, among others. Consideration will be given to submissions about any historical period or cultural/national/regional context (the book aims for genuinely global scope). Contributions may focus on a single film, a body of work (organized around filmmaker, artist or subject) or a particular institutional context. I am defining visual arts broadly to include applied arts, such as fashion, architecture and design, as well as film, video, photography, painting, sculpture, illustration and performance art etc.

Possible topics include (but are not limited to):
• Medium specificity and the visual arts documentary
• Cultural politics of visual arts television programming
• Documentary film and arts education
• Visual arts documentary as cultural diplomacy
• Post/colonial appropriation and resistance in visual arts documentaries
• Representing visual aesthetic practices in ethnographic film
• Documenting performance and collaboration in the visual arts
• Documenting activist art practices
• Discourses of the visual artist in documentary film
• Documentaries about art institutions and markets
• Visual arts documentary as paratext (making of documentaries, exhibition documentaries)
• Relationship between documentary filmmaking and archival documentation of visual arts
• Histories of arts television networks and series
• Film technologies and the visual arts documentary
• Fakery, forgery and mockumentary

Deadline for electronic submission of 350-400 word abstract (plus brief biographical statement and sample 5- item bibliography): November 1, 2016. Notification by December 1, 2016.
Commissioned chapters should not exceed 5,000 words and must be completed by October 1, 2017.
Please send submissions and inquiries via email to Roger Hallas, Associate Professor of English (Film & Screen Studies), Syracuse University, USA:

Aynur Kadir


June 1, 2016

Ethiraj Gabriel Dattatreyan on Self-Fashioning and Collaborative Ethnography in the Digital Age

June 1, 2016 | By | No Comments


VAR 31-2

Ethiraj Gabriel Dattatreyan on Self-Fashioning and Collaborative Ethnography in the Digital Age

VAR SUPPLEMENTS: Classroom Activities and Discussion Questions

Ethiraj Gabriel Dattatreyan’s “Waiting Subjects: Social media inspired self-portraits as gallery exhibition in Delhi, India” (VAR 31-2, Fall 2015) collaboratively curates an ‘accidental’ archive of digital image-making practices by young Somali refugees in India as the site where subjectivities are self-fashioned and ethnographic insights emerge.

Keywords: photography, ethnography, selfie, Somalia, Delhi, photovoice


Suggested study questions and activities

Designed for undergraduate and graduate students to address key methodological questions about collaboration and digital affordances.


Collaboration: Discussion and/or writing exercise (students spend 10 minutes writing a quick response to the following question).

  • What does collaboration mean to you? How does this concept fit with the ethos of ethnography? How has a collaborative or shared anthropology been imagined? Is ethnography already always collaborative by the nature of its engagement? If so, what does an explicitly shared or collaborative ethnography imply and entail?
  • How might digital technologies reinvigorate, and yet, complicate the possibility for creating collaborative ethnographic projects? What sorts of opportunities/challenges do digital infrastructures (social media, smart phones, digital audio-video technology) create with regard to collaborative ethnography?
  • In the VAR article, “Waiting Subjects,” how does the Dattatreyan utilize the social media inspired photographs of his participants as an ethnographic site?
  • What does the author argue are the limits of these photographs?


Shared Anthropology: Assigned film viewing, with discussion and/or writing exercise. Watch this video of Jean Rouch discussing the future of visual anthropology:

  • Jean Rouch was one of the pioneers of a shared anthropology that utilizes audio-visual technology. Why do you think he argues that the easily available, inexpensive digital video cameras in our moment aren’t ‘real’ cameras? How does this sentiment impact how we might imagine collaboration in the digital age? What do you think John Rouch would say about the author’s investments in the digital practices of his interlocutors in the field?


Social Media: Social media exercise. Read this short primer on “Why we are all digital anthropologists” by Olivia Bellas: . Students use social media to find short videos or photographs shot by non-experts.

  • Following Bellas, what do you think of this idea that ‘everyone’ is now an anthropologist with the advent of digital technology?
  • Regarding the virtual artifacts collected from social media, are these objects ethnographic? Why or why not? What can we know from the objects you have retrieved? What remains unknown?



Additional readings:

Lassiter, Luke Eric (2005). Collaborative Ethnography, Public Anthropology. Current Anthropology 46 (1) pp. 83-106.


Boellstorff, Tom (2012) Rethinking Digital Anthropology in Heather A. Horst and Daniel Miller (eds.). Bloomsbury Press.


Pink Sarah, Horst, Heather, Postill, John, Hjorth, Larissa, Lewis, Tania, Tacchi, Joe (2015) Digital Ethnography, Principles and Practice. Introduction.


Aynur Kadir


May 27, 2016

Zoe Bray on “Anthropology with a Paintbrush”

May 27, 2016 | By | No Comments

Zoe Bray on “Anthropology with a Paintbrush”

VAR SUPPLEMENTS: Classroom Activities and Discussion Questions

Zoe Bray’s “Anthropology with a Paintbrush: Naturalist-Realist Painting as ‘Thick Description‘” (VAR 31-2, Fall 2015) advances the practice of naturalist-realist portrait-painting as an under-explored method and medium of visual anthropology where slow-paced observations and interaction provide opportunities for making “thick descriptions” on canvas.

Suggested study exercises and questions

  1. Exercise: Take a drawing tool (charcoal, pencil, crayon, or paintbrush..) and paper, and spend about 20 minutes drawing an object of your choice in front of you (this could be simply a cup or a book. Ideally place it in natural light, rather than under artificial lighting. Sit or stand a meter or so away from it – i.e. Not too close and not too far away. Take breaks from time to time). Reflect on this process of visually studying an object.

How has drawing helped you to understand this object? Did taking breaks help you to see better? What effect did standing closer or further away from the object have?

  1. Repeat the exercise, this time spending a little more time, and drawing another person who is willing to sit for you. It can be a friend or a fellow-student you do not know so well.

What happened during the drawing session? Did you chat? What did you pay attention to? How do you feel drawing helped you to see the person? What new knowledge about the person do you feel you got from drawing her or him? Do you feel you know the person better in some way or other?

  1. Hold a mirror to the side of your face and look into it with the eye closest to it. In the mirror’s reflection you can look at your drawing in reverse.

What can you see in your drawing that you didn’t see before? What do you think of your drawn interpretation of the model? How do you think it could be improved?

  1. Look at videos of different artists drawing or painting other individuals live (or better still: observe artists in action!) Two videos of the author Zoe Bray portrait-painting live: —and— .

Think about how the artists see what they see, and what they choose to depict. What do you think they are looking out for? How do you think they are transferring this knowledge onto the paper/canvas? What can you speculate about these artists’ particular individual sensibility, and the role that technical skill plays in their way of depicting?

  1. Sit for someone else.

Think about how the person drawing you is looking at you. How does it feel to be represented? What do you think about the drawing done of you? What do you think the artist/student has ‘captured’ of you? Why? Does having sat for someone else help you in your own drawing? How?

Kate Hennessy


May 27, 2016

SAPIENS’ Call for Photo Essays

May 27, 2016 | By | No Comments


In January 2016, the Wenner-Gren Foundation launched SAPIENS, an editorially independent online publication devoted to popularizing anthropological research to an international, general-interest audience.

The foundation is bringing substantial resources to the project to sustain a beautiful website, support an editorial staff (comprised of both anthropology experts and journalists), and promote the site with an active marketing strategy. We anticipate that the magazine is on track to become a leading site for news, features, commentaries, reviews, and more highlighting anthropological research. Since its launch, we already have had more than 200,000 readers from 206 countries and territories. We have syndication partnerships with Scientific American, Discover Magazine, Slate, and The Atlantic.

A vital part of our new magazine is photo essays. These consist of 6–12 images, an introduction, and accompanying captions. In the tradition of visual anthropology, we seek original, high-quality sets of images that convey a story or draw our readers into an important and memorable place in time. An introduction (typically 100–300 words) should provide context for the essay, and each image should be accompanied by a caption (up to 75 words) that provides context and adds more information and insight.

To date, we’ve been able to present a wide range of excellent photo essays, from a long piece on the immigration crisis, to an insider’s view of a hospital in Niger caring for women suffering from obstetric fistula, to a story of how the simple ladder used by Pueblo Indians reveals their complex cosmology, to the controversial convenience stores run by immigrants in Belgium, to an artistic meditation on Native American massacre sites in the United States.

Help us transform how the public understands anthropology. Review our guidelines and please consider pitching a photo essay to the editors at




Rachel Ward


November 4, 2015

New Issue of Visual Anthropology Review (2015 Vol. 31 No. 2)

November 4, 2015 | By | No Comments

The latest issue of Visual Anthropology Review is out now and is full of exciting articles about painting as thick description, contemporary Aboriginal photography, video activism in Mexico, Somali refugees using social media in India, and the development of an audiovisual archive of everyday life in Indonesia. plus interviews with filmmakers David MacDougall and Shashwati Talukdar. It is available on AnthroSource and through Wiley-Blackwell.

Kate Hennessy


October 26, 2015

VAR SUPPLEMENTS: Jonathan Westin on Uncertainty in Historical Visualizations

October 26, 2015 | By | No Comments

Classroom Activities and Discussion Questions

Jonathan Westin’s “Inking a Past: Visualization as a Shedding of Uncertainty” (VAR 30-2, Fall 2014) uses Actor-Network Theory to understand how a visualization studio renders representations of the past.
Questions for classroom discussion:

1. When thinking of the past, for instance Medieval Times or Antiquity, what images form in your mind and how do you differ between the different time periods? Are there certain elements you “include” in your mental image that gives you cues?

2. How does the visualization work of SIF (Studio InkLink Firenze) compare to previous efforts to visualize ancient Rome and other past societies? What are the dominant trends in archeological visualization today?

3. The article describes how an illustration is created through a series of steps that bring shape and form to an initial idea. Is any one step more important than another, and who is the most influential actant in this chain of procedures?

4. The article concludes that it is better to speculate than to only reconstruct what is certain. What dangers lies in both of these approaches respectively, and what are the advantages?

5. How do you think the insights and concepts of Actor-Network Theory can benefit visual anthropologists in their work?

6. One of the most controversial elements of an ANT perspective is the endowing of objects and other nun-human elements with agency, that is, interpreting them as actants within a larger actor-network. What does such a move do to anthropological theory? How does it complicate or clarify the interpretative work of anthropologists?

7. Is it time for an ANT analysis of the field of anthropology itself? Have we escaped the interrogative lens of STS work for too long?



Kate Hennessy


October 3, 2015

VAR SUPPLEMENTS: Ethan Sharp on Narcocultura at the Mexican Military Museum

October 3, 2015 | By | No Comments

VAR SUPPLEMENTS: Classroom Activities and Discussion Questions

Ethan Sharp’s “Visualizing Narcocultura: Violent Media, the Mexican Military’s Museum of Drugs, and Transformative Culture” (VAR 30-2, Fall 2014) explores the museumification of drug culture in Mexico as a pedagogical dimension of the drug war.


The following set of questions and resources provide pedagogical tools to be used in undergraduate courses.

Questions for classroom discussion:

  1. What are some insights that you would expect to gain into drug trafficking and the drug war from a visit to the Mexican military’s museum of drugs? What are some insights that the museum might provide that are not available at other sites or in other forms of media?
  2. Why does the Mexican military have a museum of drugs? Why is the museum closed to the general public? Why has the Mexican military allowed journalists and other media professionals to disseminate reports about and photos of the museum in recent years?
  3. How are representations of narocultura in the museum similar to and different from representations of narcocultura in other media, such as television shows, narcocorridos, and films?
  4. What are some of the different ways in which you can interpret the representations of narocultura in the museum? For example, how does the museum promote or celebrate narcocultura? How does it denigrate narcocultura? How does it undermine or move beyond the concept of narcocultura?
  5. How do museums contribute to processes of self-discipline and self-reform? Do you agree that the Mexican military’s museum of drugs contributes to self-discipline and self-reform? Why or why not?
  6. Is it possible to develop a critique of the military and its strategies through the museum? If so, how?
  7. Can you imagine some better uses of the museum, or some ways in which the museum could be re-developed? Do you think that the museum should be opened to the general public? Why or why not?


Additional resources:
Links to representations of the museum in the media that are referenced in footnotes:

Links to other representations of the museum in the media:

Links to blogs that provide information about the drug war in Mexico. These blogs occasionally provide links to videos posted by drug trafficking organizations, as well as videos and other resources posted by citizen journalists.

Other forms of media that are mentioned in the article are narcorridos and telenovelas that feature drug traffickers. The following are links to youtube videos that are trailers for telenovelas and/or videos produced by well-known performers of narcocorridos. I have provided short explanations for each one.

A video by Los Tigres del Norte featuring the corrido of La Reina del Sur. La Reina del Sur was a novel about a woman who became a drug trafficker. The novel was made into a television serial in Mexico: 

A trailer for the television serial “Camelia la Tejana,” which is based on a corrido originally performed by Los Tigres del Norte (the song that is performed in the trailer is the corrido of Camelia la Tejana): 

Video created for the corrido “El Ejecutor” by El Komander: 

A documentary film entitled “Narcocultura,” recently released on DVD provides a very good introduction to the drug war in Mexico and the different forms of media associated with narcocultura. The following is a link to the trailer for the film. 


Kate Hennessy


August 31, 2015

VAR SUPPLEMENTS: William Lempert on Native Science Fiction Film

August 31, 2015 | By | No Comments

VAR SUPPLEMENTS: Classroom Activities and Discussion Questions

The following set of activities is meant to be a teacher-led pedagogical tool for provoking undergraduates to engage their perceptions of indigenous futures. It is hoped that this will help to disrupt the ways in which Native peoples have become representationally embedded within Western media and imaginations as artifacts of the past.

  1. Close your eyes for 60 seconds and in as vivid detail as possible, imagine that extraterrestrials land on Earth today. Write down a few key images.
    • Where do they land and who do they meet?
    • Is there conflict? If so, describe it.
  1. This time, close your eyes for 60 seconds and vividly imagine what the future, broadly defined, will look like in 200 years. Write down a few key images.
    • What utopian and dystopian elements did this include?
    • What role, if any, was there for indigenous people?
  1. List a few of your favorite science fiction films.
    • In what ways do the plots of these films correlate with what you imagined in the first two activities?
    • How influential do you think these films have been on your own ideas about the future?
  1. Watch as many of the clips below as you have time for (totals approximately 35 minutes).
    • What was your reaction to these clips in light of this article?
    • Did you agree with the author’s interpretations? Why or why not?
  1. In light of the article and these viewings, choose one of your listed favorite sci-fi films from activity 3 and briefly describe how it might be reimagined to highlight indigenous perspectives.
  1. To what extent does the article convince you that the representations of indigenous peoples in science fiction films have the potential to make practical differences in the lives of indigenous peoples?

Film Links

Available Film Links

 Lisa Jackson’s The Visit (4 mins)

Vistas – The Visit by Lisa Jackson, National Film Board of Canada

Jeff Barnaby’s File under Miscellaneous (7 mins)

Nanobah Becker’s The 6th World (15 mins)



Related Readings

Dillon, Grace. 2012. Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

Nama, Adilifu. 2008. Black Space: Imagining Race in Science Fiction Film. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Rieder, John. 2008. Colonialism and the Emergence of Science Fiction. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press.

Collins, Samuel. 2008. All Tomorrow’s Cultures: Anthropological Engagements with the Future. New York: Berghahn Books.

Supplemental Resources

 Imagining Indigenous Futurisms – Facebook Page

This facebook page is an excellent resource to critical scholarship and commentary on indigenous futurisms, with regular engagement with Native science fiction films.


IndigiTube is an Aboriginal Australian example of an video-sharing website that aligns with indigenous futurism in that it is a new media delivery system that appeals to indigenous youth whose primary media engagements are through phones and tablets, as well as its wide variety of topics that transcend binary tropes around tradition and “contemporary modern” life.

Bunky Echo-Hawk’s Website


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