Visions of Power, Powerful Visions: Immersive representations of indigeneity in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia

    Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

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    Virtual Reality and colonialism may have more in common than you might think. Virtual Reality (VR), like film and photography, is a Western-based technology designed to project visual representations of the world. These representations are shaped by our societal and cultural perceptions and, it is argued, are still influenced by 15th and 16th-century colonial visions of unfamiliar lands and peoples. These early images were often monolithic and stereotypical, projecting European power, and created without firsthand experience. They categorized the original inhabitants of the Americas into angelic indios, who aided European colonizers, and demonic indios, who resisted colonization.
    With the advent of photography and film in the 20th century, a more nuanced yet still biased vision of different peoples emerged, this time frequently categorizing the subjects of representation as noble savages living in harmony with nature and needing protection or salvation. Indigenous media can challenge and reverse the colonial gaze, yet it may still be perceived by non-indigenous viewers through the filters of the past, applying the pre-established Eurocentric tropes of other worlds. VR technologies risk repeating this unbalanced and biased vision. Therefore, this dissertation explores how VR technologies could be implemented as an intercultural digital platform that fosters dialogue rather than perpetuating difference. Yet, it could also inadvertently influence indigenous spiritual worlds through the embodied experiencing of virtualized sacred spaces and objects. As a unique feature of this dissertation, the author custom designed a mobile augmented reality app that brings the text to life.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Groningen
    • Strandvad, Sara, Supervisor
    • Aasman, Susanna, Supervisor
    • Kiss, Miklós, Co-supervisor
    Award date8-Jul-2024
    Place of Publication[Groningen]
    Print ISBNs978-94-93289-58-1
    Publication statusPublished - 2024


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