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University Of Oklahoma Professor Researches Impact Of Video In Indigenous Mexico

Apr 12, 2015

University of Oklahoma associate professor Laurel Smith's interest in geography takes her to places most people don’t have the opportunity to visit.

University of Oklahoma geographer Laurel Smith
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While working on her Ph.D. in geography at the University of Kentucky, she traveled to Mexico to study the indigenous peoples of Oaxaca.

"I studied the production and circulation, and to some degree the reception of, indigenous videos made by indigenous individuals, organizations, communities," Smith said. "And also I wanted to know what folks were doing with these authoritative visual technologies and what would happen when they accessed these new technologies to represent themselves."

Smith said video allows for the weaving together of cultural and scientific narratives in order to understand issues of social and environmental justice. In a video called Eso viene sucediendo (This Still Goes On), ​Smith says the reproductive rights of indigenous women were violated after they were lured into medical clinics under the guise of cancer screening.

"In this particular video there are women who are sharing their testimonies of being pregnant, and being in labor, and having medical health professionals telling them that if they did not agree to having an IUD (intrauterine device) inserted immediately after their birth, then they should just go have their baby on the street," Smith said. "And the power of the video to educate viewers about these violations that were happening - that was extraordinary."