Tags: inequality, lgbtq, prejudice/discrimination, sex/sexuality, ally, coming out, 61+ mins
Summary: Ally is a documentary exploring what it means to support and defend members of the LGBTQ community in the 21st century. Featuring interviews with parents, educators, artists, writers, and members that identify as LGBTQ, the film analyzes current stereotypes in the media; struggles experienced by members of the LGBTQ community and their families; how to support a friend or family member who is "coming out"; allyship within the LGBTQ community; and gender identity and discrimination in the work place. Each clip in the documentary features a testimony from a different speaker, offering a different perspective and opportunity for classroom discussion. Any of the individual speaker's analyses can be a constructive means to spur discussion.
Submitted By: Timothy Lydon
Tags: environment, globalization, immigrants/citizenship, climate change, climate justice, migration, refugees, 00 to 05 mins, 61+ mins
Summary: While the science behind climate science clearly shows that climate change is caused by humans (see summary of the 2013 IPCC report), its actual effects on humans is often harder for people to understand. One of the many effects of climate change, however, is the emergence of climate refugees. As defined by the creators of this film by the same name, "a climate refugee is a person displaced by climatically induced environmental disasters. Such disasters result from incremental and rapid ecological change, resulting in increased droughts, desertification, sea level rise, and the more frequent occurrence of extreme weather events such as hurricanes, cyclones, fires, mass flooding and tornadoes. All this is causing mass global migration and border conflicts." Accordingly, this trailer puts the human face back into climate change to emphasize the impact it is having on over 25 million people now, and these impacts will only continue to grow. But its impact will not only be felt by the refugees themselves, but also the societies that volunteer, or are forced to accept the mass movement of people into their countries. As John Kerry notes in the trailer, it is an "enormous national security issue." It will have further effects on food and energy prices throughout the world. You can also watch the full film (95 minutes) online. Viewers may also be interested in this second video (2013; 47 seconds) that briefly describes the first American town that will likely be lost to climate change by 2025. Kivalina, Alaska, sits on a small peninsula and is home to 400 indigenous peoples. For generations, they have depended on the sea for their survival, but because of greenhouse gases produced by other people around the world, they will lose their homes to that sea. The broader issue of climate refugees raises many important ethical questions as well. Given that the populations displaced by climate change (mostly in the Global South) have contributed far less to global warming, what responsibilities do those in the Global North--who are largely responsible for greenhouse gas emissions--have in protecting or moving these populations? In other words, what would climate justice look like?
Submitted By: Paul Dean
Film explores cultural history & nutrition of a U.S. culinary tradition.
Tags: class, culture, food/agriculture, health/medicine, race/ethnicity, African Americans, American South, culinary traditions, soul food, subtitles/CC, 61+ mins
Access: iTunes or Amazon (online purchase; trailer here)
Summary: In the documentary Soul Food Junkies, filmmaker Byron Hurt "sets out on a historical and culinary journey to learn more about the soul food tradition and its relevance to black cultural identity. Through candid interviews with soul food cooks, historians, and scholars, as well as with doctors, family members, and everyday people, the film puts this culinary tradition under the microscope to examine both its positive and negative consequences. Hurt also explores the socioeconomic conditions in predominantly black neighborhoods, where it can be difficult to find healthy options, and meets some pioneers in the emerging food justice movement who are challenging the food industry, encouraging communities to 'go back to the land' by creating sustainable and eco-friendly gardens, advocating for healthier options in local supermarkets, supporting local farmers' markets, avoiding highly processed fast foods, and cooking healthier versions of traditional soul food." (This excerpt is from the film's website; additional educational materials can be found here; eight healthy soul-food-inspired recipes can be found here.)
Submitted By: Valerie Chepp
Tags: capitalism, class, economic sociology, globalization, marx/marxism, organizations/occupations/work, political economy, social movements/social change/resistance, theory, factory takeovers, labor, occupy, real utopias, worker cooperatives, subtitles/CC, 61+ mins
Summary: This excellent documentary from Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis documents the extraordinary movement of factory takeovers in Argentina. As noted on the The Take's website, "In the wake of Argentina's dramatic economic collapse in 2001, Latin America's most prosperous middle class finds itself in a ghost town of abandoned factories and mass unemployment. The Forja auto plant lies dormant until its former employees take action. They're part of a daring new movement of workers who are occupying bankrupt businesses and creating jobs in the ruins of the failed system." By following the struggle of the Forja workers to regain control over its factory, it shows how workers formed networks and coalitions in their movement, the legal context of recuperated factories, the different organizational structures that workers develop to run their factories, the political reaction to neoliberalism, and the electoral race to shape Argentina's future. Accordingly, the movement serves as a unique bottom-up alternative to neoliberal capitalism. The film offers excellent illustrations of several sociological concepts, such as class consciousness and ideology. It also reflects Erik Olin Wright's concept of real utopias, which are "utopian ideals that are grounded in the real potentials of humanity ... [including] utopian designs of institution that can inform our practical tasks of navigating a world of imperfect conditions for social change" (2010: 6). As a "real utopia," the recuperated factories represent actually existing social projects that embody ideals of social justice, equality, and participatory democracy--they are not perfect (no social projects are), but they can serve as one model (of many) for what is possible. While the documentary was released in 2004, viewers may be interested to know that the movement of recovered factories continues in Argentina, including hundreds of workplaces and over 10,000 workers. For books on the movement of worker-run factories in Argentina, see Sin Patrón (2007) and The Silent Change (2009). There is also a recent (2013) example of one such factory in the US, Chicago's New Era Windows Cooperative.
Submitted By: Paul Dean
A Navajo nádleehí.
Tags: gender, sex/sexuality, violence, gender binary, Native American culture, third gender, two-spirit people, 61+ mins
Access: PBS (includes Trailer; Clip 1; Clip 2; Clip 3)
Summary: This documentary from PBS's Independent Lens series centers on the story of Fred Martinez, "a boy who was also a girl" who was murdered as a teenager, making him "one of the youngest hate-crime victims in modern history." The film explores non-binary gender traditions or "two-spirit people" in the indigenous cultures of North America. As explained here, "Most tribes were aware of the existence of two-spirit people, and many still have a name in their traditional language for them. For example, The Din éh (Navaho) refer to them as nàdleehé or one who is 'transformed', the Lakota (Sioux) as winkte, the Mohave as alyha, the Zuni as lhamana, the Omaha as mexoga, the Aleut and Kodiak as achnucek, the Zapotec as ira' muxe, the Cheyenne as he man eh, etc. (Roscoe, 1988). Some tribes had different names for two-spirited men and women." Several short clips from the film are available from PBS. I use Clip 1 (2:24) to help students think beyond the gender binary of contemporary American society. PBS's website for the film offers some educational resources, including a map of gender-diverse cultures across the globe. For additional information about the film and how to purchase it, click here.
Submitted By: Michelle Sandhoff
Bollywood actor and filmmaker Aamir Khan
Tags: abortion/reproduction, demography/population, gender, marriage/family, violence, domestic violence, gendercide, india, infanticide, patriarchy, sex ratio, subtitles/CC, 61+ mins
Summary: The cultural preference for sons in India and China is well known and widely discussed, and demographers observe that both countries have distorted sex ratios, due in part to a rise in sex selective abortions since the 1980s. According to estimates based on census and sample registration data, in mainland China the sex ratio stood at 120.6 boys per 100 girls in 2008, while it stood at 110.6 boys per 100 girls in India for 2006-2008. In some Chinese provinces and Indian states, the ratios are even higher than these national-level estimates. For instance, in Jiangxi, Anhui and Shaanxi provinces in China the sex ratios are 137.1, 132.2 and 132.1, respectively, and in India's northern states of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, the sex ratios are 119.6, 118 and 114.9, respectively. This video is from the Indian television talk show Satyamev Jayate and takes on the issue of sex selective abortions in India. The video can be used to supplement discussions on distorted sex ratios. In particular, it can be used to highlight the domestic violence that often accompanies the preference for sons but tends to be neglected in the demographic literature, given its tendency to focus exclusively on numbers and trends. From about the 6:10 mark to about 19:30 minutes, the audience hears the testimony of two women who were coerced into having sex selective abortions and have faced considerable harassment from their husbands and in-laws for their failure to have sons. Instructors can further use the video to begin a discussion about how the problem of imbalanced sex ratios can be addressed. Since patriarchal notions that men are more valuable than women underlie the trend toward coerced sex selective abortion, a truly systemic approach will likely include an attempt to dismantle patriarchy itself.
Submitted By: Manjistha Banerji
Tags: children/youth, education, media, science/technology, social problems, subtitles/CC, 61+ mins
Summary: This PBS special challenges the advertising image of technology as always "progress" or a "solution" to contemporary problems. Instead, this series of short topics highlights how technology has actually created a whole host of its own social problems related to digital over-saturation. This video is paired well with Kenneth Gergen's "The Saturated Self," or other readings that deal with how technology has changed our daily lives in very powerful ways. It can also be used to encourage students to disconnect when reading or writing for classes in that the video presents research that indicates that multitasking makes us dumber. I have found that students have strong (often defensive) reactions to this video, so I also make time for classroom discussion, or I assign a reaction paper.
Submitted By: Michelle Smirnova
Tags: capitalism, historical sociology, inequality, marriage/family, race/ethnicity, racism, slavery, white privilege, 61+ mins
Access: Netflix (trailer here)
Summary: This full-length documentary follows a family's journey—headed by family member/filmmaker Katrina Browne—through the Triangle Trade between Rhode Island, West Africa, and Cuba. In doing so, family members begin to recognize how their White privilege is directly tied to enslavement of Africans by their ancestors. The film is useful for the classroom in four ways: 1) it provides a history lesson of the Triangle Trade, demonstrating how the American North was/is as culpable in the enslavement of Africans as the South, 2) it demonstrates the direct tie between New World/American capitalism and its survival to the slave trade, 3) it slowly reveals the consciousness-raising of privileged White folks as they understand how their privilege is directly tied to slavery and racism, and 4) it demonstrates the awkward yet necessary dialogues and discussions White people need to have about U.S. history and racism. I like to use this film as a companion to Tim Wise's talk "The Pathology of White Privilege." After my students watch Traces of the Trade and Wise's talk, we discuss how contemporary White privilege is directly tied to the conception of our nation, the contradictions and paradoxes of capitalism and democracy, and their own embodied and/or witnessed experiences of White privilege. The film's website includes purchasing information and teaching materials. Another great companion piece to Browne's documentary is the book Inheriting the Trade. Written by Browne's relative Thomas DeWolf, the book more deeply documents the family's physical and social psychological journey.
Submitted By: Beverly M. Pratt
Tags: capitalism, class, inequality, intersectionality, knowledge, marx/marxism, alienation, working poor, 61+ mins
Access: Netflix (trailer here)
Summary: This film follows custodial staff at several U.S. colleges/universities, documenting the workers' daily lives on and off campus. The documentarians interview each person, attempting to understand their personal biographies, their daily experiences as a custodian, and their philosophies on life, love, religion, etc. This film can be used instructively in the following ways: 1) in a lecture on class, inequality, the working poor, or Marx's concept of alienation, 2) as a tool to highlight the experiences of people extremely close in proximity to students, as custodial staff are often ignored by undergraduates and other members of college/university campuses; this is also a great time to introduce campus-led initiatives such as the Harvard Living Wage Campaign, 3) as a tool to understand intersectionality, and how the intersecting identities of the custodial staff result in certain material inequalities, and 4) in class discussions about the social construction of knowledge, as the custodial staff offer epistemological perspectives rooted in unique social locations and life histories; the juxtaposition between the knowledge articulated by the custodial staff and the knowledge-producing institutions in which they work, as well as the quotes by well-known philosophers interwoven between segments, offers a very fruitful site for analysis.
Submitted By: Beverly M. Pratt
_Tags: bodies, gender, lgbtq, sex/sexuality, identity, lesbian, masculinity, transgender, 11 to 20 mins, 61+ mins
Length: 13:58 (entire documentary is 75:00)
Summary: The Aggressives is a documentary "look at the lesbian women who prefer to dress and act as men and who participate in NYC's predominantly African-American lesbian drag balls." Viewers may explore issues of identity, gender, and sexuality with this group of lesbians that identify as butch/stud "aggressives," and adopt a very masculine gender. Part of this excerpt shows the daily practices to portray a masculine physique, including constantly working out to build muscle tone, grinding their teeth in order to have a strong masculine jaw line, taking hormone pills to grow facial hair and other mail traits to reduce feminine features and using duct tape, ace bandage and girdles to tape/hold down their breasts so they are less visible. As the respondents discuss their identity, this excerpt also explores what it means to be a man or woman, illustrating West and Zimmerman's concept of "doing gender." The women in the documentary are constantly fighting against societal constraints of a gendered female norm. This highly provocative excerpt can be a great discussion starter on issues of gender and sexuality, but the film more generally also examines issues of race.
Submitted By: Jasmine Jowers and Rachele Macarthy
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