chapter  7
Giving voice? Experiences of collaboration on indigenous video-making projects
WithRadhika Borde
Pages 10

This auto-ethnographic essay describes the author’s experiences of collaborating on online documentary video projects with an Adivasi (indigenous) filmmaker. The author worked at an activist NGO in Jharkhand that was coordinating Adivasi struggles against the acquisition of land for mining. Allowing subalterns to speak for themselves was heralded as one of the NGO’s prime concerns, but the author witnessed at first hand the difficulties involved in self-representation. With a discussion of her experience of working with an indigenous filmmaker who expressed that self-representation in the context of activism can often be traumatic, the author emphasises that initiatives to encourage the self-representation of marginalised people and subalterns should proceed cautiously. Another potential pitfall is that of ventriloquism, whereby power dynamics shape ostensible self-representation and dominant voices speak through those in marginalised positions. With the help of subaltern theory, the author takes a critical look at the use of mass media for indigenous self-representation and NGO activism.