Affectual Erasure

Representations of Indigenous Peoples in Argentine Cinema

By Cynthia Margarita Tompkins

Subjects: Latin American Studies, Film Studies, Cultural Studies, Indigenous Studies
Series: SUNY series in Latin American Cinema
Hardcover : 9781438470979, 398 pages, September 2018
Paperback : 9781438470962, 398 pages, July 2019

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

List of Figures

Part I. Early Cinema, 1896–1932

1. Melodrama and Avant- la- Lettre Documentary in Alcides Greca’s El último malón (The Last “Indian” Raid, 1917)

2. Kitsch and Exoticism in Nelo Cosimi’s La quena de la muerte (Death Kena, 1929)

Part II. Classical Cinema, 1933–1956

3. Femme Fatale in Luis Belisario García Villar’s Frontera Sur (Southern Border, 1943)

4. Betrayal and Insanity in Lucas Demare’s El último perro (The Last One Standing, 1956)

Part III. Modernity and Auteur Cinema, 1957–1983

5. The Shifting Meanings of Translation in Lautaro Murúa’s Shunko (1960)

6. Transculturation in Jorge Prelorán’s Hermógenes Cayo (1967)

Part IV. Cinema in Democracy, 1983–1993

7. Fatal Kindness in Raúl Tosso’s Gerónima (1986)

8. Bewitched Mirror Images in Edgardo Cozarinsky’s Guerriers et Captives (Warriors and Captives, 1989)

Part V. Contemporary Period, 1993–2017

9. The Power of the Word in Philip Cox and Valeria Mapelman’s Mbyá: Tierra en rojo (We Are the Indians, 2005)

10. State Terrorism in Valeria Mapelman’s Octubre Pilagá (Pilagá October, 2010)

11. Life as a Specimen: Alejandro Fernández Mouján’s Damiana Kryygi (2015)

12. Clashing Ideologies, Denunciation, and Reparation in Ulises de la Orden’s Tierra adentro (Inland, 2011)

13. Silence and Isolation in Mathieu Orcel’s Para los pobres piedras (Stones for the Poor, 2013)

14. Immersion and Metamorphosis in Inés de Oliveira Cézar’s Cassandra (2012)

15. The Power of Constellations in Sebastián Lingiardi’s Las pistas- Lanhoyij- Nmitaxanaxac (Clues- Lanhoyij- Nmitaxanaxac, 2010)

Appendix: A Political Map of Argentina

Comprehensive examination of how Indigenous peoples have been represented in Argentine film.


Affectual Erasure examines how Argentine cinema has represented Indigenous peoples throughout a period spanning roughly a century. Cynthia Margarita Tompkins interrelates her discussion of films with the ethnographic context of the Indigenous peoples represented and an analysis of the affective dimensions at play. These emotions underscore the inherent violence of generic conventions, as well as the continued political violence preventing Indigenous peoples from access to their ancestral lands and cultural mores. Tompkins explores a broad range of movies beginning in the silent period and includes both feature films and documentaries, underscored by archival and contemporary film stills. She traces the initial erotic projection, moving through melodrama to the conventions of the Western, into the 1960s focus on decolonization, superseded by allegorical renditions and the promise of self-expression in late twentieth-century documentaries. Each section includes an introduction to the sociohistorical events of the period and their impact on film production. Analyzed chronologically, the films evidence different stages in the projection of the hegemonic Argentine imaginary, which fails to envision the daily life of Indigenous peoples prior to conquest or in colonial times—and remains in denial of their existence in the present.

Cynthia Margarita Tompkins is Professor of Spanish at Arizona State University and the author of Experimental Latin American Cinema: History and Aesthetics.


"This is an enormous contribution to film and cultural studies, due to its meticulously researched registry of film titles and filmmakers, primary and secondary source bibliography, direct citations from the films translated into English, important stills and basic biography of the filmmakers, carefully analysed within the era of production of the individual work. Especially valuable are the introductions to each era, which historicize the films within the cinema tradition of the time. " — Bulletin of Spanish Studies

"…[an] ambitious, wide-ranging book. " — CHOICE

"Cynthia Margarita Tompkins's book is the most comprehensive analysis of the cinematic representations of Argentinean Indigenous peoples ever written. Her writing is lucid, insightful, grounded in a thorough familiarity with the films, and aware of the most current theoretical debates in film/theory and cultural studies. The book will surely become a breakthrough in its field. " — Santiago Juan-Navarro, author of Archival Reflections: Postmodern Fiction of the Americas (Self-Reflexivity, Historical Revisionism, Utopia)