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Biostitutes and Biocultural Conservation: Empire and Irony in the Motion Picture Avatar

  • Bron TaylorEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Ecology and Ethics book series (ECET, volume 3)

Abstract

The motion picture Avatar, directed by James Cameron, metaphorically spotlighted the long processes on Earth wherein powerful societies invade territories inhabited by indigenous peoples, damaging or destroying their societies and environments. The film, which set box office records around the world, was beloved by theatergoers and passionately debated. Some averred that Hollywood productions including Avatar, despite expressing sympathy for indigenous peoples, actually denigrate them, sometimes in racist ways. Others argued that Avatar and some other films express an unwarranted romanticism toward aboriginal societies and erode an understanding of their diversity and, thus, promote an insidious homogenization and cultural erosion. Yet Cameron self-consciously chose the genre of the blockbuster Hollywood film to spotlight and condemn, and urge resistance to, colonial processes of cultural and biological simplification, which have, of course and tragically, often included genocides and extinctions. Cameron did so while implicitly raising the possibility of blending in salutary ways the knowledge systems of aboriginal peoples with those of the invaders. Thus and ironically, he deployed one of the world’s art forms that has been cited as an important instrument of cultural homogenization in an effort to promote respect for and political solidarity with aboriginal cultures and their putatively superior ecological practices.

Keywords

Biocultural conservation Biocultural simplification Biodiversity Cultural diversity 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Religious StudiesUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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