Accepted Paper:

Awake to Racialised Truths and Resistance  
Molly Leeves (University of Sussex)

Paper short abstract:

Using ‘Awake: A Dream from Standing Rock' this paper explores the influence of racialised truths and the value of self-representation by indigenous communities in the context of a hegemonic western corporate-influenced comparative perspective. I look at how film can be a platform for marginalised communities to resist powerful global actors

Paper long abstract:

‘Something that I’d seen was lacking, was filming from an indigenous perspective, and our story wasn’t being told correctly’ (Awake: A dream from Standing Rock, 2017). The values of objectivity and truth within ethnographic filmmaking are a reflection of power structures that are historically embedded and are only challenged when subjects have sovereignty over the filmmaking process. Awake is an indigenous-made film that demonstrates an alternative approach to ethnographic filmmaking through self-representation, subject sovereignty and activism. Critically examining the normalisation of ‘racialised truths’ gives context to indigenous media offering a better understanding of their lives. At the time of conception, race was a relation of difference through which power was expressed, a social construction that assumed whiteness as the norm and other races as deviation. Leaving behind western constructs can lead to a more in-depth understanding of other cultures, as it means theircultural realities can be represented without the forced truth, and false dichotomy of ‘western’ and ‘deviation’. Awake circumvents the checklist of western comparative perspectives and presents indigenous communities as they see themselves. The filmmakers and subjects of Awake use the platform of the film to give context to, and mitigate negative corporate-influenced and institutionalised media bias. The media and powerful actors supporting the Dakota Access Pipeline were misrepresenting the indigenous community and manipulating peaceful actions using corporate-backed counterinsurgency - techniques that are becoming widespread to diminish resistances across the world.

Panel P16b
Global Black Lives Matter: representations of resistance, memory and politics
  Session 1