Reimagining the Pacific

Images of the Ocean in Chile and Peru, c.1960 to the Present

Coastal communities around the world are facing significant challenges, both ecological (such as rising sea temperatures) and as a consequence of human activity (for instance through flows of migration). Chile and Peru have been identified as two of the countries likely to be most affected by climate change, with their fishing industries vulnerable to rising sea temperatures, and their coastal regions vulnerable to the El Niño phenomenon, which is intensified by climate change.

This project asks how visual and audiovisual creative responses to these and other issues from Chile and Peru can help us to live well in changing coastal environments across the world. Scholars working in the environmental humanities and the emerging field of oceanic studies have argued that in order to develop a more sustainable relationship to the world’s oceans, we must understand the history and present of our responses to them.

Methodology

The project analyses the production, reception and circulation of feature films (Patricio Guzmán, Javier Fuentes-León), video art (Cecilia Vicuña) and installations (Claudia Müller, Ana Teresa Barboza), among other forms of cultural production. It asks what changes are visible across the time period studied (1960 to the present), and shows how coastal cultural production brings to the surface lesser-known local, national and transnational histories.

The project also asks a methodological question: how can scholars of audiovisual media produce critical work that supports public engagement with ecological issues? This question is particularly important given the vital role that audiovisual media have played in recent years, whether in the form of television series or online video clips, in furthering public understanding of contemporary ecological challenges. One need only think of the influence of the BBC’s Blue Planet II series on debates around plastic use in the UK.

Planned outputs

The project’s findings will be disseminated through several major scholarly publications, stakeholder workshops with local arts organisations and representatives of environmental NGOs in Chile and Peru. Key to this will be a collaboration with Project Partner, the Centre for Cinema and Creation in Santiago de Chile, to develop the format of these workshops and to disseminate outcomes.

Project team

Funding

This project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and runs 1 February 2021 – 31 July 2022