The Mellon Foundation’s Sawyer Seminars were established in 1994 to provide support for comparative research on the historical and cultural sources of contemporary developments. Foundation support aims to engage productive scholars in comparative inquiry that would, in ordinary university circumstances, be difficult to pursue, while at the same time avoiding the institutionalization of such work in new centers, departments, or programs. Sawyer Seminars are, in effect, temporary research centers.
Documentary and the Legacies of Colonialism: Images, Institutions, and Economies
Led by Joshua Malitsky and Marissa Moorman
September 15–16, 2016
This Sawyer Seminar will focus on the role imperial institutions played in nonfiction film history. As tools of colonial administration, this series and its speakers will illustrate how nonfiction films promoted state projects, public-health campaigns, and the idea of empire in an effort to fashion modern colonial subjects. In addition to studying and shaping its subjects through film, this series will also outline how the state established nonfiction film institutions and practices to maintain imperial order. Furthermore, it will examine how the documentary image, its institutional home, and its role in projecting and modeling national and other subjectivities emerged as critical areas of intervention both in the decolonization movement and after independence. This series is sponsored by Center for Documentary Research and Practice, The Media School, the Institute for Advanced Studies, the Mellon Foundation, and IU Cinema.
The complete seminar schedule for Documentary and the Legacies of Colonialism: Images, Institutions, and Economies can be accessed here.
Capturing the Imagination: Independence and the Claim to Rights
Led by Christiana Ochoa and Timothy Lovelace
October 20–21, 2016
Social unrest and claims to rights invoke the dual capacity of the documentary form to both “capture the moment” and to serve a role in advocacy and activism. These potentials have captured the imagination of nonfiction filmmakers as well as civil rights historians and activists in the United States. Similarly, the potential documentary images hold for shining light on abuses has been reflected in films and images from around the world that articulate with the rise of human rights law and politics. This workshop explores how and whether these possibilities have been realized, and their lasting significance and legacy for both rights claims and the nonfiction form. This conference continues the Sawyer Seminar series and will explore the state/activist/citizen triad and consider to what extent the transnational spread of the idea of civil rights, or human rights, has been captured, reflected, and advanced through documentary film. It brings scholars and filmmakers from the United States and abroad to discuss these questions. The series is sponsored by Center for Documentary Research and Practice, The Media School, the Institute for Advanced Studies, the Mellon Foundation, and IU Cinema. The complete seminar schedule can be found on the IU Cinema website. This seminar will have several films and clips presented, some with filmmakers being in attendance. At the time of this printing, the full screening schedule had not been finalized. There will be a public screening on Thursday evening of the seminar (title TBD), as well as a screening of Stanley Nelson’s 2011 documentary Freedom Riders (date/time TBD).