Documentary: The Garden

The film outlines the struggle of community gardeners to save their garden after shady dealings between the land owner and the City of Los Angeles leave them facing eviction.  This is a great documentary that illustrates neoliberalism wherein the state supports the rights of private citizens, and ultimately capitalism, over the local community.  The film is also useful for showing various activist strategies ranging from civil disobedience, resulting in police violence, to petitions, community events, and attempts at legal recourse.



Transnational Feminisms Plotagon Videos – Spring 2014

In this class, students work on a semester-long research project.  Part 1 is an Annotated Bibliography, Part 2 is a Literature Review, and Part 3 is a Video Project. Below are the links for student video projects.  The parameters of the project are as follows:  create a conversation between two characters.  One character acts as the “expert” and the other character acts as the “learner”.  Your video should communicate the research conducted over the term.  The video must be under 10 minutes long. 

“Debate on Female Genital Surgery”

“A Conversation on Environmental Racism”

“Sex Trafficking”

“Impact of NGOs on Developing Countries”

“Female Circumcision”

“Nation-Building Through Women Runners”

“White Saviour Complex and Voluntourism”


Documentary: The World Before Her

I’ve been wanting to see this film for over a year now. I was excited to see it pop up on Netflix.  It was good, but it could have been great.

The film makes it clear that girls are positioned between two poles:  Westernization in the form of beauty pageants and Hindu fundamentalism that positions women as “mothers of the nation”.  Some context is given for the latter; Hindu fundamentalists are shown to be dangerous in their hatred for Muslims and Christians.  However, the film would benefit from far more historical and cultural context.  The beauty queens and pageant organizers talk in English, and are largely lighter skinned while the participants in the Hindu fundamentalist camp for girls are largely darker skinned and from rural communities.  More discussion of British colonialism and partition would help audiences contend with the film’s tensions.

I was most drawn to Prachi Trivedi, a 24 year old leader at the girls camp.  We see Trivedi wrestling with a desire for leadership in the Hindu fundamentalist movement but constrained by gendered expectations; she’s a militant who’s told to get married and have children, a calling she has no desire for.

Female infanticide deserves more attention too.  Two documentary subjects mention that they were “saved” (i.e. allowed to live) and owe their families as a result.  Again, Trivedi provides the most poignant discussion of infanticide; she is compelled to do whatever her father wants (including justifying his abuse) because he chose to raise her.  I’m still searching for a complex piece on female infanticide.  It’s a Girl is too sensationalist, and The World Before Her provides a small mention but no analysis.  Like many other parts of the film, it stands as a brief glimpse into gendered insecurity, not unlike the scenes of Hindu fundamentalist attacks on women for drinking in bars or dancing in clubs.

As with any film about the global south, I wonder how Western audiences are taking up the material and using it to further Orientalist, colonialist desires/fears of the “other”.  Given that The World Before Her was partially funded by the Canadian government, this is an important question to ask.

Fall 2012 Class Blog Sites