The Virginia Dares project is a multi-creator production/online film festival towards decolonizing the story of Virginia Dare. It’s scheduled to open for entries in November 2019.
Intended to leverage social media for educational outreach, Virginia Dares seeks to help Americans reimagine one of the earliest chapters of ‘our’ history, re-envisioning the legend of Virginia Dare, the first English child born in the first English settlement in the New World, c. 1588.
In its most widely available public expressions, Virginia Dare’s story has been principally controlled and shaped by guardians of so-called white identity, for whom the appearance of a native-born white female child has accrued immense symbolic importance, serving to legitimize:
1. English colonialism and the doctrines of divine right and manifest destiny
2. Anti-Indian propaganda, the vital ideological justification for colonialist genocide and expropriation
3. White female innocence, a key trope for racialist thinking in America, directed first toward Indians, and later toward peoples of African descent
As the British sociologist Stuart Hall famously argued, visual representations of otherness hold special cultural authority for both Westerners and the “others” they have displaced. The Virginia Dares project will question the authority of such visual representations in order to disrupt dominant narratives of the colonial past, and will explore the myriad resonances between 19th and 20th century myths about the European origins of American civilization and contemporary anti-feminist, anti-indigenous discourses. Ultimately, the project seeks to foster in its audiences a sense of responsibility to the past, present, and future of all the peoples we call “American.”
Virginia Dares is produced as a collaboration between faculty and students in the School of Performing Arts, the American Indian Studies program, and the School of Visual Arts.
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- 2019 Virginia Tech Presidential Principles of Community Award
- 2017 Virginia Tech | School of Performing Arts Bruce Carver Multicultural Arts Grant