My post is in response to the quote at the end of Chris’ post: “The Kayapo appropriation of the medium of video reaffirms the notion that it is people who make their own history and that in the age of "the global village" one makes history by controlling the media of self-representation” (pg 278).
In the film we watched in class yesterday, I found it fascinating how the Waiapi strategically appropriated western technology, not to affirm/advance their position in “the global village,” but - on the contrary – to promote their autonomy from the dominant Western worldview. Moreover, I was surprised at how readily they acknowledged the seemingly contradictory nature of this exercise. It was clear that the appropriation of Western tools constituted a form of resistance to them, even as they took advantage of the realities of globalization. In other words – if the Kayapo considered the camera as a weapon, it was a weapon that they’d turned on its original wielders. This I think is an interesting contrast to the “oh, if only we could go back we would be better off perspective” that Chris addresses, which considers Western technology an infiltration, regardless of who’s controlling it.
I was also struck by how the use of video was not simply a matter of “externally-facing” communication, a means to make the “general public” aware of their situation, but a “internally-facing” communication, as well. Both the Waiapi and Kayapo spoke at length about how video could be used to strengthen ties with neighboring relatives, preserve their culture, and to record their histories. Here, I think the identity-forming potential of video played as important – if not more important – a role as its potential for transmission to Western societies.
For me, Indigenous Media raises a lot of complex questions about authenticity, manipulation, and the exploitation of cultures that have already experienced subjugation by dominant Western societies. Regardless, in today’s globalized world, I still think it offers some productive models for both raising awareness of non-dominant cultures, and promoting the alliances and traditions that preserve those cultures.