Enchantment as resistance in times of ecological damage

Contemporary ethnofictions in Latin America

  • Thu 18 May 23

    11:00 - 12:00

  • Online

  • Event speaker

    Mariana Cunha, University of Westminster

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars

  • Event organiser

    Language and Linguistics, Department of

  • Contact details

    Karen Roehr-Brackin

This presentation examines the ways in which a group of recent films from Latin America engage with the impacts of environmental destruction and the genocide of indigenous communities.

The films discussed address the afterlives of violence, extractivism, and colonialism through the fabulation of exhausted and diseased bodies and scarred landscapes. Nevertheless, beyond resorting to a mode of representation – fictional or documentary – whereby ecological and ethnic catastrophes are emphasised and denounced, it is argued that these contemporary filmmaking practices offer new forms of storytelling.

The extent to which films such as Eami (Paz Encina, Paraguay, 2022), The Fever (A Febre, Maya Da-rin, Brazil, 2019), Black Lagoon (Laguna Negra, Felipe Esparza Peréz, Peru, 2019), and Tomorrow is a Water Palace (El mañana es un palacio de agua, Juanita Onzaga, Colombia) address the exhaustion of bodies and spaces by shifting epistemological paradigms is discussed.

Through creatively reworking cosmologies and cosmovision of Amerindian thought, these films fabulate new forms of radical coexistence among humans, nonhumans, spirits, natural elements, and other agencies, which present new forms of re-enchanting the world (Simas and Rufino, 2020). Indeed, following Simas and Rufino, the speaker argues that these narratives of enchantment are acts of resistance and anticolonial fabulation. Finally, the formal elements of these films as ethnofictions, whereby storytelling constitutes a process of ethnographic co-creation, ritualisation, and preservation of ancestrality are examined.

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Our speaker: Mariana Cunha

Mariana Cunha is a Lecturer in Screen Studies at the University of Westminster. She has a PhD with a focus on Brazilian Cinema and a MA in Cultural and Critical Studies from Birkbeck, University of London. She held two postdoctoral fellowships in Brazil before joining the University of Westminster.

Her recent research addresses the relationship between cinematic affect, spatial practices, and ecological visualities, particularly the role of nature and the nonhuman in contemporary global cinema and screen arts, thereby addressing the growing awareness of the impacts of the global environmental crisis and how these come to bear on artistic and filmmaking practices from Latin America.

She co-edited the books Space and Subjectivity in Contemporary Brazilian Cinema (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) and Human Rights, Social Movements and Activism in Contemporary Latin American Cinema (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). Mariana also contributes to film festivals and screenings as a film programmer in Brazil and in the UK. She is currently curating an exhibition on eco-aesthetics and ecological practices in contemporary Latin American visual arts, which will take place in Spring 2023.

Lots of different national paper flags on cocktails sticks.
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