Critical Writing Index

Talking Back to Primitivism: Divided Audiences, Collective Desires

by Lucas Bessire

American Anthropologist, Dec. 2003, v. 105, no. 4, pp. 832-838

Native appropriation of film, video, and television technologies has been lauded by some as a strategy that allows for Native agency in the quest for self-determination. Other have questioned the benefits of these technologies, noting that indigenous media initiatives can have destructive effects on cultural norms.

This article explores the unprecedented success of Zacharias Kunuk's film "Atanarjuat," using the film and its impact as a way of delving deeper into questions surrounding the paradoxical nature of primitivism. Primitivism works in two ways: it can reduce indigenous people to stereotypes but at the same time allows for a self-representation that can be leveraged for political gain.

ITEM 2003.154 – available for viewing in the Research Centre

Videos, Artworks and Artists Cited

Atanarjuat, The Fast RunnerZacharias Kunuk