Monday, July 20, 2015

Confronting our Privilege

Araya, the film, is billed as high art and high cinema.  

It has much been reviewed to critical acclaim in this regard.  The film maker, Margot Benacerraf, in addition to thinking of this film as a ‘tone poem,’ also intended the film to be commentary on the loss of traditional culture due to modernization.  She glorifies the stark and impoverished lives of the salt miners and their families. The people she dehumanizes as gestural art worked relentlessly, from childhood to old age, and for many hours every day.  For this continual labor, they secured a marginal and bare existence, so that she and we could salt our food at extremely little cost or effort.  This is the privilege that is unmentioned yet front and center in the film.  This is the same privilege that ultimately took apart the traditions that Benacerraf found so quaint and artfully dear—not for the good of the people involved—but rather to reduce the cost of producing salt even further.  

While this film was produced in 1959, unfortunately, the lives of abject poverty depicted—where labor starts in childhood—are still common in many salt producing parts of the world.  However, we have a choice.  We can support ethically produced and Certified Fair Trade salt, and if we do the idea of fairness will spread.  In fact, when purchasing imported foods or other items, you are probably supporting corporations that degrade and devalue human life if you don’t insist on Fair Trade.  Salt, as it turns out, is still one of the worst offenders when it comes to child labor and other labor abuses.  And of course, these abuses are not art.  Other particularly egregious abuses in today’s world concern coffee and chocolate production.

For more information please see our posts on --

Meanwhile, educate yourself and your friends.  The film, Araya, is available through college, public, and school libraries as well as other video outlets, on request.  And while this isn’t our favorite film, it does help us all confront our privilege.

Check out our post on ‘Peace Making and the Power ofNarrative.’  It starts out with a short essay on privilege that we think is very worth reading.


Our recommended DVDs can be found here:

Participate!  If you know of other media that helps us confront and understand our privilege, whether they are articles, books, CDs, DVD’s, periodicals, or websites--please share in comments.  We may be able to feature your recommendations in an up-coming blog post!
Boycott for Peace!


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