The Road Forward: Indigenous Media and the Archival Imaginary

by Prof. Dr. Faye Ginsburg (New York University)

Abstract: Over the last thirty years, Indigenous media makers and collectives across the globe have produced an astonishing array of work – from documentary projects to experimental efforts and feature films – creating and drawing on invaluable archives in the process, sustaining these extraordinary collections has created unanticipated dilemmas. Despite the remarkable success of some of the most longstanding and prolific groups – such as Video nas Aldeias in the Amazon and Igloolik Isuma in the Arctic – these archives have been difficult to maintain given the complexities raised by cultural restrictions, technological changes, the difficulty of preservation in remote locales, and the ongoing challenge of raising funds for Indigenous work. At the same time, some recent projects have activated Indigenous archives – real and imagined – in remarkable ways that speak to the power of the archival imaginary as a site of cultural activism.

Faye Ginsburg directs the Center for Media, Culture and History in the Department of Anthropology at NYU. She has been working with, and writing about Indigenous media makers for three decades and is completing her book Mediating Culture: Indigenous Media in the Digital Age.