American Studies Association Annual Meeting
Scheduled Time: Sun, Oct 23 - 8:00am - 9:45am Building/Room: Hilton Baltimore, Holiday Ballroom 4
Title Displayed in Event Calendar: Everyday Media and Practices of Popular Power
This panel focuses on the use of media technology by working class people of color and indigenous groups from the 1970s to the present. Analyzing a variety of media, panelists consider the relationships among technology, social movements, and access to political and social power for poor and marginalized people in contexts of globalization.
Curtis Marez’s paper “From Third Cinema to National Video: Visual Technologies and United Farm Worker World-Building” analyzes the contradiction between anti-imperialism and cold war nationalism in the history of UFW media technology. In particular Marez examines the UFW documentary film Fighting for Our Lives (FFOL, 1974), which visually linked the California fields to scenes of imperial violence in Asia, Latin America, and the U.S. south. He also analyzes the UFW’s pioneering political use of home video during the 1980s, through which the organization attempted to build a national audience by framing pesticide harms in U.S. nationalist terms and by turning César Chavez into a nationalist icon. Whereas Marez argues that FFOL connected the union to anti-imperial struggles, he also contends that the UFW’s video projects in the 1980s implicitly appealed to U.S. nationalism at a moment of resurgent U.S. imperialism in Latin America.
In “’Tu Voz TV’: Mexican Migrants, Self-Representation and Documentary Video,” Rebecca Schreiber examines the use of the documentary form in videos produced by young Mexican migrants involved in Media Arts Center San Diego’s Teen Producers Program, which were included in “Tu Voz TV” (Your Voice TV), a series broadcast on local and national cable stations. Through working within and beyond conventions of traditional social documentary filmmaking, this group of young mediamakers constructed videos that intervened in contexts characterized by unevenly distributed relations of power, where they are positioned as “illegal” or illegitimate residents. This paper contributes to an understanding of the choice of documentary modes in the self-representation of Mexican migrants in the post 9/11 era, and asks questions about the ways in which media technology matters or can disrupt certain dominant cultural logics and politics of representation.
Sasha Costanza-Chock will present “Translocal Media Mobilization in the Asemblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca - Los Angeles (APPO-LA),” which explores social movement media practices in translocal flows between Oaxaca and Los Angeles, and finds that the repertoire of digital contention is not limited to online space, but includes the spreadability of media elements between digital distribution channels as well as into offline spaces. While digital literacies make possible new practices of richly mediated translocal mobilization, previous media practices provide an important foundation. Everyday practices of media use by Oaxacan migrant indigenous communities served as important precursors for effective movement use of new digital media during key moments of mobilization. This case indicates that social movements are best able to use digital media when the base of the movement formation is already familiar with the tools and practices of network culture. Within APPO-LA, everyday practices of video sharing by indigenous migrant workers laid the groundwork for transmedia mobilization.