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date: 18 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter uses Ingagi and The Silent Enemy, both independent films released in 1930, to examine the intersections of race and religion in the context of American documentary film conventions. The filmmakers claimed documentary status for their films, despite the fact that both were largely scripted and contained staged representations. Many audience members and critics nevertheless took their representations of the religious practices of Africans and Native Americans to be truthful and invested in the films’ authenticity because their visual codes, narratives, and advertising confirmed accepted stereotypes about race, religion, and capacity for civilization. Examining these two films in the context of the broader history of documentary representations of race and religion—from travelogues, adventure, ethnographic, and expeditionary films through more recent productions—this chapter explores how the genre has helped to shape and communicate ideas about race and religion.

Keywords: documentary, film, travelogue, representation, race, religion, authenticity, Ingagi, The Silent Enemy

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