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Talking Back to Primitivism in Indigenous Film

  • Ethnic Studies Psychology 116, SFSU 1600 Holloway Avenue San Francisco, CA, 94132 United States (map)

Special Film Screening and Lecture with Dr. Lucas Bessire, human rights anthropologist/filmmaker, University of Oklahoma


Farewell to Savage (70 minutes).  This film uses footage from the workshop process, archives and a drone to craft a non-linear reflection on the power of visuality to provoke new ways of relating to the world, each other and our own past selves. In sustained dialogue with each of the Ayoreo videos, the film documents how the filmmaking process unleashed new potentials and dilemmas for all involved, in ways that pose important questions for anthropological theory, practice and advocacy.   


Lucas Bessire is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma.  His main research and teaching interests focus on political anthropology and inequality, media and documentary film, Indigenous rights, law and policy, environmental change and ethnographic writing. Bessire has conducted ethnographic fieldwork across the Americas. Between 2001 and 2016, he spent 52 months living among Ayoreo-speaking peoples of the Gran Chaco region of Bolivia and Paraguay. Additional field research has taken him from lowland South America to the high plains of western Kansas and Arctic Alaska. In recent years, Bessire authored Behold the Black Caiman: a Chronicle of Ayoreo Life (University of Chicago Press), an ethnographic study of crisis and change among recently-contacted Ayoreo peoples, which won three major book awards. He is also co-editor of Radio Fields: Anthropology and Wireless Sound in the 21st Century (New York University Press), and the director of the documentary films Asking Ayahai: an Ayoreo Story, From Honey to Ashes, and Farewell to Savage. He is Co-founder of the Totobiegosode Weaver’s Alliance and creator of the Ayoreo Video Project. Bessire’s research has been supported by grants from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, the National Science Foundation, the Ruth Landes Memorial Research Fund of the Reed Foundation, the Mellon Foundation and the American Council of Learned Societies. Bessire has held visiting positions at the School for Advanced Research and New York University.  He was a 2012-13 Member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study. 

Earlier Event: May 13
Spring Planting and Farm Work Day
Later Event: July 6
Farm Volunteer Work Party