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Book chapter - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Films as human rights: through the lens of Indigenous Peoples’ Forest food

Bose, Purabi


Among various forms of communication, a combination of audio-visual formats like films is increasingly used in promoting human rights. Indigenous Peoples’ rights to forest food in India are being amplified through a film, TARA Alpinia nigra. This article examines how common resources, such as wild edible forest food, when turned into commodities violate basic human rights to the culture and health of India’s Indigenous Peoples. When a human rights violation happens, it means that person’s humanity has been denied. Often, human rights violation is expressed in statistics (numbers) or via legal bindings (treaties, policies), which fail to have a human touch. Filmmaking on human rights violations touches that human element by shedding light, camera, and action by amplifying the voices of the ‘human beings’, the real protagonists. This article demonstrates the role of film in documenting the ‘way of living and traditional right to sustainable forest food for Assam’s – North-East province in India – hunting-gathering Indigenous communities. It elaborates how films can become a powerful medium when the human ‘rightsholders’ are given a space to voice their opinions in front of the lens. The conclusions point out two ways forward: (a) the films become a lens of justice by letting real people talk in front of the camera rather than voice-overs by the ‘beholders’ of human rights, and (b) Indigenous Peoples are aware of their traditional rights to forest food as commons.

Published in

Book title: Applied human rights
ISBN: 978-90-8686-943-5, eISBN: 978-90-8686-390-7
Publisher: Wageningen Academic Publishers

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Studies on Film

    Publication Identifiers


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