Café Discussion Group

Scribe: Rob McCourt

In our group we discussed Spurr’s analysis of “the violence of the letter” which portrays one cultures ability to assert their dominance over another culture by analyzing and reclassifying another cultures habits and traditions.  We then discussed the connection between this and the Indigenous media article and how the Australian Aboriginals film industry is fighting to take control of how they are being filmed and represented by attempting to remove the influence of western film from their movies (like hiding the means of production from the audience). This would allow aboriginals to define theri own culture and values by making their own movies the way they want to make it.

There were also many struggles to find identity within the Arab Spring article, that dealt with trying to escape the influence of the dominant other. They attempt to create their own history and culture while outsiders like the U.S. are calling the conflict acts of terrorism. The need to shut out social media also plays a large role in their identity formation because it is not facebook posts or tweets that are going to actually change things. It is the ones who are actually physically involved that are making the changes.

We then discussed the idea of surveillance and the power that comes with the gaze and the connections it had with the aborigines filmmakers. They desired to control the gaze by moving away from western filming techniques and film the way they want to be depicted.

Lastly we thought it was fairly interesting how something like wearing a veil or Burka can impact the gaze/ surveillance. Most people view wearing these clothes to be a tradition that dis-empowers individuals by forcing them to cover their body, but it can also be seen as a point of empowerment by being masked and unknown due to the fact that others can not see you therefore they can not cast judgment. They are allowed the power of the gaze while remaining mysterious.

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