MLA formatDescription and rationale:In the final essay you will have more creative space. You will write an argumentative essay (research paper) addressing the discussions we have made throughout our course about the relation between decoloniality, the image, and the senses. In your essay, you will be expected to address the relation between film and decoloniality, while bringing into your discussion at least one conceptual framework we have studied during the course (Rosalind Galt, Tina Campt, Silvia Cusicanqui, Debra Castillo, Maylei Blackwell). Please, be sure to develop and convey your argument in a clear way through an efficient and compelling critical reading of the films. Also, following our focus in the course, make sure to address the sensorial layers of the films (sound, visual construction, textures, color, movement, etc).
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May 30, 2021
History and memory is a film that Rea Tajiri makes, where she presents a history of her
family’s encounter with the Americans and Japanese during World War II. The film explains the
imprisonment of the Japanese and Japanese Americans. The film presents the film as a history in
records and memory that is not in documents. It has significantly showcased the relationship
between decoloniality and filming, which is what this essay will explain. Memory presents itself
across a long time through history and family, and it often creates legacies that are hard to get rid
of. History is also an essential part of people’s lives, and it is difficult to eliminate any forms of
history, whether good or bad; it must find itself in future generations. Tajiri tries her best to
recover and reconstruct the memories in her family and maintain the history of what her family
went through during World War II. This essay will explain the relationship between the film and
decoloniality, the conceptual framework necessary for the topic, and the sensory layers present in
the film, such as sound, visual construction, and sound.
Relation between the Film and Decoloniality
The film has many poetic features, together with many recorded history and memory that
are absent on the record, both explaining decoloniality. Decoloniality involves the ontology that
is always present or created due to an aftermath of a traumatic experience. It also consists of
restoring or rediscovering past experiences missing from memory by looking at the recorded
history. In this case, the film presents how the Tajiri’s family faced many harrowing experiences
of decoloniality, haunting and groundbreaking. Rea Tajiri’s family was one of the many 120000
Japanese and Japanese Americans held captive in the internment camps after the strike on Pearl
Harbor. The scenes showed many brutalities, which were a perfect representation of what was
happening in World War II and how the Japanese and Japanese Americans faced hell. The
trauma those families faced during the war was spreading through the generations’ social
networks for a long time. The film relates to decoloniality, where it shows how the family
experienced a lot of sadness after the war and how the trauma took a long time for them to
neutralize the effects and reduce the damage.
In the film, we can see Tajiri asking her mother about the internment they faced, and her
mother failed to remember; her memories had been affected by the trauma, and it was disturbing
(Ely-Harper). Seeing that her mother could not remember the experiences she went through
during the internment, Tajiri decides to go to the national archives to rediscover her family’s life
experiences as indigenous people in the USA. Tajiri wants to revive the history of the
internment by keeping a record of the memories and history, especially after noticing that many
people who had first-hand information were doing their best to shut down the memories. The
primary relationship between the film and decoloniality is that it shows the efforts Tajiri makes
trying to revive their history and record the memory from her family and documented history
from the National archives.
The most appropriate conceptual framework that aligned well with the film is the lens of
Silva Rivera Cusicanqui, which sought to explain that it is the responsibility of indigenous
people to commit to finding their culture and history and keep them on record. The most
significant challenge culture has been facing for a long time is colonial conditions and
modernity. The experiences indigenous people face during colonial power should prompt them
to ensure the world created by colonialism gets back to its feet (Backwell). Silva’s lens explains
decoloniality with how she tries to reconstruct and recover her indigenous roots by learning her
native language/mother tongue. Decoloniality is also present in the film, according to the
Cusicanqui, where we see that Tajiri does her best to revive the history her family experienced
during the Japanese American internment (Cusicanqui). Cusicanqui’s research shows how racial
frameworks and the unrecorded collision caused the disappearance of the native culture and
experiences. However, she says that decolonization must be the responsibility of every
indigenous person, and everyone who feels that they have their culture in them should strive to
encourage it. This is what Tajiri does to ensure that her people’s experiences were marked and
remembered forever despite the trauma it caused people to have.
The Cusicanqui framework explains that one cannot decolonize without practicing the
decolonization practices. Tajiri practices the decolonization practice by using her family’s
experience to keep the record of their memory and goes to the national archives to look for the
recorded history of the Japanese and Japanese Americans’ imprisonment. From the Cusicanqui’s
lens concept, one must have interculturality for them to succeed in decolonization. From this,
one must look at the colonization’s internal aspects to find its complexity and how it affected the
native people. Tajiri realizes that the imprisonment affected her people in traumatic ways where
their brains decided to shut down the past. Her mother could not remember the full experiences
she faced during the internment camps. Tajiri describes how her mother completely changed
after the incident and how she managed to help her memories return. She encourages her family
to share the memories they had about the internment, which generally contributed to the recovery
of her memories. The way she continuously asked her family many questions about the event
showed that she was well prepared and entirely motivated to learn her culture and decolonize it.
Sensorial layers of the film
The film’s quality of video and sound is quite good because the sounds are audible and
the images visible even though there was a way and that the film was made in the 20th century.
The video utilizes many elements to present the effects of moving through memories and history.
At some point, one can hear an echo to show that the video talked about going back in time to
show the incidences during the internment. There was also some silence in the film, which shows
the illumination of history. The silence shows how the Japanese and Japanese Americans lived
through pain, difficulty, and inability to defend themselves or escape the terror they were in. The
people talking in the video are heard, and every word they say is clear. At some point, behind
Tajiri’s voice, one could listen to the voices of people shouting and screaming, and some
speaking in a native language. The voices used in the war are clear; the shooting, bombings, and
the sounds of the war jets. As Tajiri explains her mother’s bird, the film includes some birds
singing in the background to utilize and symbolize the birds her mother owned utterly. From the
videos, one can hear the sounds as though there was poor frequency, which indicated that the
video was made in the 20th century. The sounds and the background soundtrack present a fair to
good experience to show the epic version.
The film’s visuals have been presented in black and white and colored forms to show a
combination of memories during the internment period. During the war, we see the visuals in
black and white, presenting a perfect atmosphere and tone to show the effects of the war. It also
allows the viewer to view the films from different angles and world viewpoints in the form of a
faint memory (Marks ). The black and white color also shows that the experience may not have
been factual because Tajiri says that nobody told whether the events happened or not, which is
why she sought to investigate and find the truth. The colored part of the film shows that they
were honest and experienced, unlike the black and white scenes of the film. The colored part of
the film captures everything, including the texture and patterns of the film. The visuals are not
entirely clear to show the time frame of the internment. Several other filmmakers and artists have
advanced the memory and history documentary and improved its quality. The filmmakers have
significantly enhanced the movements in the film to create better effects and texture and make
the video more visible.
Conclusively, the film uses every aspect to show the faded memory, and the pain the
Japanese and Japanese Americans faced during World War II. Tajiri shows the importance of
culture and decolonization. She shows how valuable culture is, whether bad or good, everybody
should embrace it and ensure that many generations ahead do not forget the past. Her effort in
reviving her culture shows that learning about our history helps us move forward. It also allowed
the whole family and the present generation to see the origin of some trauma. Tajiri explains how
the internment affected many people even though they were not present during the incident. The
film has contributed a lot in bringing to attention World War II and how the indigenous people in
the USA suffered from it. The film has been adequately presented with fair sound and visual
Backwell, Maylei. Indigeneity. California: NYU Press, 2021.
Cusicanqui, Silvia Rivera. “A Reflection on the Practices and Discourses of Decolonization.”
The South Atlantic Quaterly (2012).
Ely-Harper, Kerreen. Record Keeping: Family Memories on Film- Rea Tajiri’s History and
Memory: For Akiko and Takashige and Wisdom Gone Wild. Edinburgh University Press,
Marks , Laura U. The Skin of the Film. Durham, London: Duke University Press, 2000.
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