NAISA 2018: "Indigenous vs. Administrative Memory in Native Documentary Animation"
Come out to the NAISA annual conference at the InterContinental Hotel in Los Angeles, May 17-29, 2018.
"Indigenous vs. Administrative Memory in Native Documentary Animation"
"Indigenous Film" Paper Session
Thursday, May 17, 2:00 to 3:45 pm – Ladera Heights Room 521
The recovery and making-visible onscreen of undocumented histories has been a central concern of contemporary Indigenous cinema and new media, where interactive platforms enable a unique engagement with experiences of colonial violence not recorded in the settler archive. Emerging from a preoccupation with documentary media that prefigured the relationship of Indigenous people to modern technologies, Native U.S./Canadian artists use animated documentary to restore dimensionality to experiences of the administrative violences of federal education and environmental dispossession.
This paper explores how these stop-motion shorts and video games reveal the mediating systems of administrative memory that first classify and then dispossess Indigenous people of their lived histories. These animated expressions surface at the perceived gap between craft arts and digital technologies, generating a distinct hybrid documentary aesthetic: Native game designers express this hybrid aesthetic in cinematic cutscenes and game environment, as in Arrival: Village Kasike (2008) and Never Alone (2014); meanwhile, Native animators Amanda Strong and Terril Calder employ stop-motion animation to reconstruct settler-colonial histories in their short films, such as Four Faces of the Moon (2016) and Snip (2016). Examining these media artifacts together, this paper argues that an emergent hybrid documentary aesthetic, focalized through the haptic dimensionality of a hand-crafted style, disrupts the administrative memory of settler-colonial media. The suture of Indigenous animation and documentary strikes a rhetorical stance by emphasizing what Steven Loft has called “communally shared history linked via mnemonic and transferable knowledge,” toward an ethical vision of Indigenous history situated outside the space of the settler archive.