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Indigenous Presence in the US Imagination: A Study of Native American Representation in Cinema from the Myth of the West to Standing Rock

Rutherford, Jack Neil (2022) Indigenous Presence in the US Imagination: A Study of Native American Representation in Cinema from the Myth of the West to Standing Rock. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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This study is concerned with how identity is given meaning as a discursive act within the cultural expression of cinema – as it broadly operates across popular, more independent, and indigenous filmmaking contexts. Starting with more mainstream and established cinematic approaches, I consider how Native Americans have been represented in Hollywood, the analysis reflecting less the pervasive influence of the Western film genre than working to focus on Eurocentric discourses of US identity, particularly via a constructed and performative Indian-ness. Next, I suggest an aesthetic occurs that opens to a filmic space of negotiation and resistance in which constructions of indigeneity and non-hegemonic cultural narratives can foster alternative knowledge systems across indigenous and independent filmmaking. In recent years, this has been compounded by the democratization of filmmaking through – relatively – inexpensive means. Smart phones and hand-held camera recorders are readily available and have been utilized to great effect in generating audio visual narratives that resist the political and cultural status quo, such as the actions seen at Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in 2016 and 2017. Therefore, the final aspect of the thesis considers how political and environmental resistance combined alternative cultural narratives with film and new media technologies, thus offering an aesthetic through which to consider how film and ideology are constructed and produced. This also assists a consideration of how indigenous identities and traditional life ways are not only maintained, but also formed in the discursive acts at the point of filmmaking and in the affects of film viewing.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Native America; representation; film; visual culture; United States.
Subjects: E History America > E11 America (General)
E History America > E151 United States (General)
F History United States, Canada, Latin America > F001 United States local history
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, Department of
Depositing User: Jack Rutherford
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2022 12:23
Last Modified: 01 Jun 2022 12:23

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