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Intimate FrontiersA Literary Geography of the Amazon$
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Felipe Martínez-Pinzón and Javier Uriarte

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781786941831

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781786941831.001.0001

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Filming Modernity in the Tropics: The Amazon, Walt Disney, and the Antecedents of Modernization Theory

Filming Modernity in the Tropics: The Amazon, Walt Disney, and the Antecedents of Modernization Theory

Chapter:
(p.193) Filming Modernity in the Tropics: The Amazon, Walt Disney, and the Antecedents of Modernization Theory
Source:
Intimate Frontiers
Author(s):

Barbara Weinstein

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781786941831.003.0010

Through an analysis of the documentary film The Amazon Awakens (1944) this essay posits the use of the tenets of modernization theory in the film’s representation of the Amazon as a way to invent it as a region ripe for development as long as the necessary technological and financial resources become available. In contrast to earlier “civilizing missions” that characterized the heyday of colonialism and neo-colonialism when imperial powers emphasized the need to inculcate “backward” peoples with the rudiments of modern culture and civilization, The Amazon Awakens portrays a society poised to take immediate advantage of the technology and capital the US is eager to provide. To be sure, the Amazon had to be “awakened,” and had to throw off old habits and attitudes, but the film portrays the region’s inhabitants as predisposed to do precisely that. Finally, Weinstein focuses on the elements that the movie decides to include (local industry) and exclude (ecology and indigenous rights), to argue these decisions are systematic and serve to advance and enhance a narrative of Amazonian (natural and human) history that is coherent with the film’s modernization discourse.

Keywords:   Amazon Awakens (1944), Walt Disney, Good Neighbor Policy, Modernization Theory, Amazonia, Amazon River

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