About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 1912-1917
Publication year: 2012
ISBN: 978-84-616-0763-1
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 5th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 19-21 November, 2012
Location: Madrid, Spain

USING FILM TO TEACH THE WHITE SAVIOR INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: A CRITICAL TRANSNATIONAL FEMINIST APPROACH

S. Glick, M. Shirazi

Oregon State University (UNITED STATES)
Volunteerism is a noble pastime honored in many countries. The U.S. is one of the world’s leaders in volunteer activity which ranges from domestic to foreign assistance of both nations and individuals in need. From the Red Campaign to Kony 2012, volunteerism has found a niche in mainstream North American pop culture marketing. The poster children for such movements are predominantly white, well-educated, Hollywood hipsters; yet despite their modern currency, ensuing activism often reveals parallels to colonialist missions. As a nation, we are only on the brink of problematizing the progression of what Teju Cole refers to as “The White Savior Industrial Complex” (WSIC)—the notion of advancing western ideals for the fame of a few, against a backdrop of pathologized “others.” The effects of this work can be devastating to the very causes it wishes to serve. This theme of “saving” is of particular importance in transnational feminist discourse which seeks to listen, understand, acknowledge and respect the personal, political and social agency of individuals in the Global South.

This article addresses the Women Studies course entitled Global Women in the Movies, which was co-taught with an emphasis on exploring themes of the WSIC as it is portrayed in both feature length and documentary films with leading female characters. The class was developed in response to a lack of introductory courses that explore gender from a transnational lens while combining media with the intersectionality of race, gender, sexuality, class, empire, and ableism, along with multimodal opportunities for internalizing learning. A course goal is to assist learners in identifying macroscopic systemic patterns that contribute to inequality so as to distinguish responsible calls for activism from narcissistic appeals for temporary personal fulfillment. Further course objectives include understanding: how the institution of cinema represents and maintains systems of power; the construction of the racial “other” via the white patriarchal gaze; the exotification of the “global woman” in the context of the male gaze; filmmaker depictions of diversity and gendered cultural norms; and the historical framework that laid the foundation for colonialism, neo-colonialism and globalization in today's world. Expressly, this course was developed to expose our primarily white student body to notions of transnational feminist issues.

The class was co-taught by a professor of Women Studies who developed the course, and a graduate teaching assistant who is a Master’s in Interdisciplinary Studies candidate in Women Studies and Education.
This article not only depicts the impact of “saviors” and the lives of “others,” but reveals the pedagogical approaches of the instructors and the students in the course as well. It features learner responses to notions of the WSIC including resistance and shifts in consciousness.
@InProceedings{GLICK2012USI2,
author = {Glick, S. and Shirazi, M.},
title = {USING FILM TO TEACH THE WHITE SAVIOR INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: A CRITICAL TRANSNATIONAL FEMINIST APPROACH},
series = {5th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2012 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-616-0763-1},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Madrid, Spain},
month = {19-21 November, 2012},
year = {2012},
pages = {1912-1917}}
TY - CONF
AU - S. Glick AU - M. Shirazi
TI - USING FILM TO TEACH THE WHITE SAVIOR INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: A CRITICAL TRANSNATIONAL FEMINIST APPROACH
SN - 978-84-616-0763-1/2340-1095
PY - 2012
Y1 - 19-21 November, 2012
CI - Madrid, Spain
JO - 5th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2012 Proceedings
SP - 1912
EP - 1917
ER -
S. Glick, M. Shirazi (2012) USING FILM TO TEACH THE WHITE SAVIOR INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: A CRITICAL TRANSNATIONAL FEMINIST APPROACH, ICERI2012 Proceedings, pp. 1912-1917.
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