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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : European Languages and Cultures - Hispanic Studies

Undergraduate Course: The Indigenous Cinematic: Shifting perspectives on Indigenous film in Abiayala/Latin America (ELCH10083)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will screen, analyse and discuss Indigenous filmmaking as a politicised and poeticised field of cultural (re)production. Charting the shifting tactics and affordances of cinema, we will consider how Indigenous audiovisuality - or the Indigenous cinematic - has transformed in Abiayala/Latin America since film technologies were first introduced at the close of the nineteenth century.

Students will engage critically with the means by which cinema has both expropriated the gaze and offered a vehicle to forge cultural resurgence, language revitalization, territorial resistance and audiovisual sovereignty.
Course description This course will chart the shifting tactics and affordances of cinema since film technologies were first introduced in Abiayala/Latin America at the close of the nineteenth century, considering how Indigenous audiovisuality - or the Indigenous cinematic - has transformed into a vibrant field of self-determination. Like many categories of film production - including Latin American cinema - Indigenous film is a puzzling rubric to define, not least because of the heterogeneous experiences and cultures enveloped in the term. The question of what, or more precisely, who, constitutes Indigenous film is regularly debated, prompting scholars and filmmakers alike to question what purpose the moniker 'Indigenous' performs. Does it connote genre, an aesthetic paradigm or mode of praxis? Which communities or audiences do these works serve? How does Indigenous film take account of the collaborative nature of creative production differently? This course will engage these questions through mini-lectures, student-led discussion, presentations, film viewings - both on campus and off - and a large amount of independent as well as collaborative research.

At the heart of our enquiry will be an effort to subvert traditional historiographies of Indigenous and Latin American cinemas, examining issues of authorship, authority, agency and collaboration in media production, circulation and reception. Particular attention will be given to the following thematics, though these may vary year on year:

Historiography of Indigenous representation in film in Abiayala/Latin America
Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property
Audiovisual sovereignty
Collective authorship and authoring practices
Linguistic revitalization in Indigenous film
Narrative structures and strategies in Indigenous film
Territorial disputes and claims
Archival traces and resignifications
Cross-generational transfer

Our analysis will focus on examples of works from Mexico to Chile - including Brazil. For the assessed group presentation, students will be asked to identify a film outwith the corpus and contextualise and analyse it for the class.

The course deals with challenging material, including colonial and state-led objectification and violence against Indigenous peoples, acts of cultural and linguistic erasure, and territorial displacement and dispossession. Specific warnings will be made available for particular film works but though this material can be hard to encounter and digest, it is important to our understanding. To mitigate any distress, materials and topics of this nature will be addressed together in a group. Moreover, in our focus on counternarratives to colonial audiovisual regimes, the course aims to provide a sense of hope, foreground Indigenous lenses, voices, interpretive paradigms and strength.

Please note that this course will be conducted in English but the films will also offer Spanish/Portuguese captions for the hard of hearing, which will support students enrolled on language degrees in their broader learning journey. Students with relevant competencies may choose, therefore, to screen the works with captions in Portuguese or Spanish where appropriate. All assessment will be produced in English.

In the final group presentation students must choose a film we have not addressed in this course. This can be from beyond Abiayala/Latin America but should connect with the perspectives and topics we have been examining and be available with English subtitles/closed captions.

Priority for places on this course will be given to students on Spanish or Portuguese degree programmes.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  16
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 33, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 163 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework 100%

Film commentary (500 words): 20%
Group Presentation (20 minutes): 20%
Final essay of 2500 words: 60%

In addition, each group will present a formative presentation introducing the key themes of one of the set works during the course of the semester (weeks 3-9). This will provide the opportunity for feed-forward for the assessed group presentation at the end of the semester.
Feedback Students will receive individual written feedback for the two pieces of assessed written coursework: the close analysis commentary (20%) and the essay (60%). Plenary feedback will be given in class after evaluation of the film commentary, with pointers for improvement in subsequent assignments.

There will be regular opportunities for formative advice and feed-forward during the semester, primarily following the class presentations. Class in Week 10 is dedicated to workshopping the proposals for the final group presentations scheduled for week 11.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate an informed understanding of expressions of Indigenous authority in film through in-depth primary analysis of key works;
  2. Approach filmic discourse critically and synthesise and evaluate existing approaches to Indigenous audiovisual creativity;
  3. Articulate how the filmic apparatus can be deployed as both instrument of colonialism and resistance, drawing on relevant examples and secondary sources;
  4. Use appropriate methodologies in oral and written form to communicate complex questions of power, agency and interpretation with regards to Indigenous cinema;
  5. Work independently and in a group to share ideas and present them effectively.
Reading List
The key works included in the corpus for this course are audiovisual. Most of the films are available through our library catalogue, DiscoverEd, and affiliate streaming services secured by educational license (Kanopy, Alexander St., etc.). There will be some works that we will need to watch together in class with physical licensed copies, and perhaps another 2-3 films that you may need to rent (via Amazon Prime, Netflix or Vimeo). As there is some flexibility to the works analysed in the final group presentations, additional films may be scheduled for screening in weeks 10-11.

The course provides an accompanying Resource List. The texts included are not all essential nor is the list exhaustive, but you are advised to make extensive use of the wide range of critical perspectives available for your group presentation and final essay in particular.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Knowledge and understanding: students will broaden and nuance their capacity to decode complex media texts and deepen their knowledge of the key social, cultural and linguistic factors influencing audiovisual production in Latin America.

Applied Knowledge, Skills and Understanding: students will apply their skills in cultural critique in their preparation for class discussion and assignments, connecting primary analysis, theoretical concepts and argumentation.

Generic Cognitive Skills: through participation in class and their assignments, students will evaluate theoretical concepts through literature review, and assess critically their relevance to particular tasks.

Communication: students will develop skills identifying, structuring and sequencing materials in order to communicate their ideas cogently and persuasively.

Autonomy and Working with Others: students will show the capacity to work autonomously and in small groups on designated tasks, and be willing to develop new ideas with their peers.
KeywordsIndigenous representation; Latin America; film and media; archives; self-determination; sovereignty
Course organiserDr Charlotte Gleghorn
Tel: (0131 6)51 3237
Course secretary
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