“Multiple Realities, Resistance, and Coalition”

There is going to be a really interesting lecture this Thursday night at Hampshire College at 7pm by María Lugones, “an educator and philosopher.” The lecture is called “Multiple Realities, Resistance, and Coalition;” I believe she is going to talk about intersectionality and how to build coalition across differences.

In another one of my classes, we’ve been discussing her theorizing of “complex communication.” One of her ideas  (which I believe will also be discussed at the lecture) that is pertinent to our class is her problematizing translation. 

She theorizes that they’re many different worlds dominated by different forces; each world has Continue reading

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Silence and Communication in Amistad

Amistad is a film in which the themes of communication, language, translation, and silence function at the forefront of understanding. This is first evident in Spielberg’s choice not to subtitle the first 15 minutes of the film.  The audience hears a foreign language, Mende, from Sierra Leone but can not understand it, thus establishing the void of communication that will continue throughout the film.  The barrier of communication continues into the trials, making the slaves difficult to defend unless they can find a way to communicate.  This comes in the obvious form of a translator.  In addition, translation is also present in more subtle ways in other aspects of the film such as its cinematic techniques.  Spielberg’s choice to translate meaning both in flashback and in storytelling allows the audience to know/understand more than the characters in the film.

The following shots depict defining moments of communication throughout the film:

38:31 - The useless translator

38:31 - The useless translator

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Translation

The denouement of Amistad emphasizes that everyone speaks the same language. John Quincy is able to connect with Cinque because they both ‘understand’ the African violet (2:02:39), the metaphor of killing the lion, and the ‘very nature of man’, which Quincy explains in his trial speech is a state of freedom. The freedom American colonists sought from Britain is equivalent to the freedom described in the Declaration of Independence is equivalent to Continue reading