Soka Education Conference

Workshop: Soka Education Today – Exploring Value Creation in Documentary Film
February 15th, 2015
Pauling 430
2:30 p.m.

Jennifer Hayashi (SUA Class of 2014) and Tomas Crowder-Taraborrelli (SUA Visiting Professor of Latin American Studies)

Workshop Summary

The purpose of this workshop is to understand and expand Soka Education in the field of video documentary. Today we use video just as much if not more than we do written text, making it necessarily to expand Soka Education and consider its meaning in relation to video. This workshop aims to address how Makiguchi´s notion of value creation and community studies relates to video, specifically documentary film.

In this workshop we will explore concepts and short video clips in order to better understand how we can understand Soka Education in this generation.

Jennifer Hayashi graduated with SUA’s class of 2014 this past May. While studying at SUA she was a part of SESRP and served as a study leader her junior year. She studied abroad in Ecuador and focused her senior capstone on documentary film and hip-hop, as a means of value creation and community transformation. Immediately after graduating she returned to Ecuador to continue pursuing her path as an independent filmmaker. She recently successfully funded a Kickstarter project and is currently working on the documentary, The Roots Awaken. It is about a modern gathering of ancestral wisdom with leaders from Canada to Patagonia that took place in Ecuador. Her research interests include Soka education, humanistic education, community cinema, transformative arts, and modern indigenous cultures.

Visible Evidence XXI, New Delhi, India

New Delhi, India, December 11th to 14

India International Centre 40, Max Mueller Marg. Conference is Co-hosted by Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jamia Millia Islamia.

DECEMBER, 13th, 2014
Seminar Room 3

Time :11.30am-1.00pm

 Documentary/Violence: Trauma, testimony, index, performance and memory

Communities and trauma in South American documentary films about political militancy and state terrorism

Dr Clara Garavelli, University of Leicester (UK)

Regarding the Pain of Others: Short Experimental Argentine Documentaries on
the Dictatorship and its Aftermaths

Since the end of the military dictatorship in Argentina at the beginning of the 1980s,
there has been a vast amount of cultural production devoted to raising awareness of
the human rights abuses that occurred during those dark years. Whereas many of
these productions have been widely studied, there are yet areas of study and works
still waiting to be analyzed and discussed. Such is the case of those productions
located at the interstices of art and cinema: short experimental videos that employ
documentary modes and do not recur to narrative structures. Their ways of dealing
with the representation of violence and the traumatic past are partly connected with the
proliferation of new technologies and with the growth of new ways of experiencing the
moving image beyond the traditional film theatre. Bearing this in mind, this paper aims
to briefly explore how the works of Graciela Taquini, Gabriela Golder, Julieta Hanono,
Andrés Denegri, Alejandro Gómez Tolosa, Carlos Trilnick and Gustavo Galuppo
explore new ways of dealing with memory and with the violence generated by the
repressive past whilst attempting to challenge the traditional documentary mode.

Tomás Crowder-Taraborrelli, Soka University of America

Community activism and documentary film in Argentina: documenting the disappearance of victims of state terrorism in street flagstones.

Since the late 1950s Latin American political documentary film has been at the forefront of innovation. Argentine filmmaker, Fernando Birri, of the Santa Fé Documentary School, presided over his students as they carried on their fieldwork, photographing the living conditions of working class families in the slums. The Santa Fé School photographs became a visual script for the filming of the influential film Tire Dié (1958). The nature of Birri’s collaboration with his students, informed the production strategies of other important film collectives that followed (such as Grupo Cine Liberacion and Cine de la Base). Shortly after the popular revolt of 2001 in Argentina, documentary filmmakers returned to these collaborative models to document demonstrations in the country and the prosecution of perpetrators of genocide. In my presentation, I will analyze Ernesto Ardito and Virna Molina’s El futuro es nuestro [The future is ours] (2014), a documentary series that reclaims the history of the forced disappearances of high school students during the dictatorship. The second film under consideration is Eran de colores [They were made of colors] (2012), a video project directed by students of the Nicolás Avellaneda High School in Buenos Aires that exhumes the identity and life stories of members of the student union that were
disappeared. This short film concludes with flagstones being installed in the sidewalk in front of the school made by students and volunteers from the community. The flagstones mark the birth, and disappearance of alumni. To conclude, I will discuss Carmen Guarini’s Calles de la memoria [Streets of memory] (2012), a film that delves into the social significance of the labyrinth of repression, torture, and disappearance that the flagstones represent, and the efforts of activists and the community to memorialize the lives of political activists.

Kristi M. Wilson, Soka University of America

Force and Meaning: Political Hauntings in three contemporary Brazilian films

According to Avery Gordon, sociological hauntings can take on a range of forms
from lost personal artifacts, to decaying archival material, to people who live in the
wake of deprivation and repression. This essay explores the idea of memory and hauntings from the political past in three 2012 Brazilian films Neighboring Sounds / O Som Ao Redor (directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho), Dino Cazzola: a filmography of Brasília (directed by Andrea Prates and Cleisson Vidal), and Elena (directed by Petra Costa). This trio of films represents collisions between the force of the past and its meaning in the present across a range of Brazilian chronoscapes. Dino Cazolla was the Dzviga Vertov of Brasilia; a man with a movie camera whose cinematic eye documented the rapid creation and life of the nation’s new capital, including the traumatic rupture from democracy to dictatorship. Dino Cazzola: a filmography of Brasilia documents his life addresses the problem of preserving the type of expansive memory embodied in his decaying film archive. Neighboring Sounds explores notions of past and present violence under the surface of the increasingly privatized and policed urban landscape of Recife, a Portuguese settlement with a painful history of slavery and sugar barons. Elena is a poetic documentary about loss, memory and exile (from home and self). Born in hiding at the tail end of the dictatorship to Marxist activists, Costa uses her own personal archive of diaries, home-videos and voice recordings to conjure the inconsolable memory of her sister’s suicide in New York. These films artfully explore ways in which the Brazilian homeland has become unfamiliar — through obsessive fears about “security” and class conflict in Recife; anxiety over a decaying film archive and the potential loss of Brasilia’s tumultuous history; or the inconsolable memory of a family that surfaces in exile.

Saint Mary’s College Conference

Teachers, Teaching and the Media Conference

October 16th to 18th

Alternative Communities, Alternative Stories: Experimenting with Moocs, Community Television, and Cinema

Friday, October 17th

Session Three: 1:15 P.M. to 2:45 P.M. 

ITVS (Independent Film and Video Service) Community Cinema: state-sponsored documentary film festivals, community engagement and pedagogy

By: Tomás Crowder-Taraborrelli and Kristi Wilson

In an age where states like California have seen their once cutting-edge public university systems falter under the weight of financial crisis and fiscal mismanagement, smaller private institutions have seen admission application numbers rise. Individuals who opt to attend small private institutions, often feel isolated and removed from the type of civic dynamism and engagement that larger public institutions offer. This essay explores the merging of state-sponsored media (Independent Television Service’s Community Cinema Program Festival, funded by the Public Broadcasting Service [PBS]) and the private educational institution with the goal of fostering community engagement and debate around public issues, political activism, and the preservation of a communal public viewing space in a world where such spaces are rapidly diminishing.

For the last five years, Soka University of America, a small, private liberal arts university with a large concentration of international students, has hosted Independent Television Service’s Community Cinema Program Festival on their campus. Community Cinema is a yearlong documentary film festival organized by ITVS that features films about social and cultural conflicts around the globe emphasizing issues related to civil rights, grassroots movements, indigenous rights struggles, gender issues, and poverty. During the academic year, an ITVS associate producer (usually a faculty member) is responsible for screening between 6 and 8 documentary films, promoting the screenings, and organizing a panel of experts for post-screening discussions .

The authors will analyze the Community Cinema Festival as an ongoing pilot program of community building in the isolated “exopolis” of Aliso Viejo, California, through spectatorship and multi-faceted pedagogical film events. As part of this program, students, rather than watching clips or sequences of documentary films in the classroom, are invited to form part of a community of viewers (which includes the entire campus, local community members and invited guest speakers), and participate in post-screening discussions. After the screenings, students are asked to engage with some of the pedagogical materials created by ITVS, and to form written and visual arguments of their own using the films as evidence. The authors will elaborate on the results of using documentary evidence as a primary jumping off point for argumentative exploration in the classroom, and visual representation as an entryway into understanding contemporary civic discourse and politics.

The Cinema Migration Project: Ethnography, Film Studies, and Teaching Media

By Laura E. Ruberto

This essay explores the possibility of using cinema as a tool for teaching the history and culture of immigrants and immigration in the U.S. as well as larger questions around issues of race, ethnicity, gender, and class identities. I propose an experimental interdisciplinary pedagogical approach which combines ethnography with film studies, while attempting to be mindful of the disciplinary boundaries of both approaches. Using my own experiences teaching film studies at an urban community college (Berkeley City College) I map out how students can better understand the nuances of mediated images through tapping first-hand resources. This essay details my use of a Cinema Migration Project, a semester-long assignment which asks students to explore histories of migration which are personal and knowable through conventional ethnographic interviews and to reflect on assumptions held about those experiences by attempting to understand them better vis-à-vis cinematic representations of similar narratives. This is not film-as-anthropology but rather an attempt to teach students the degree to which our own memories and life narratives are formed within and against mediated (cinematic) narratives. Students are led to gather a short ethnographic study of an individual’s history of migration (their own or someone else’s) and to consider the role cinema and other mediated images have in shaping the recollection of that history. This essay reflects on the challenges and surprises of such an approach and uses the example to consider new ways teachers might adapt the study of cinema across disciplinary boundaries.

Laura E. Ruberto co-chairs the Department of Arts and Cultural Studies at Berkeley City College where she teaches film studies and general humanities courses. She received her Ph.D. from UC San Diego and her M.A. from San Francisco State University. She authored Gramsci, Migration, and the Representation of Women’s Work in Italy and the U.S., co-edited Italian Neorealism and Global Cinema, and translated Such Is Life, Ma la vita e’ fatta cosi: A Memoir. Her research has been supported by a Fulbright Faculty Research grant and an NEH summer grant. She co-edits the book series Critical Studies in Italian America (Fordham University Press) and is the Film and Digital Media Review Editor for the Italian American Review.

MOOCS and Social Media

By Fabian Banga

Online education has experienced tremendous growth over the last decade, spurred by a combination of technological innovations, economic drivers, and changing demographics. Today, more than one third of the nation’s college students take courses online. According to the latest survey by the College Board and Babson Survey Research Group, Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States (2013), over 6.7 million students at four-year institutions in the United States were taking at least one online course during the fall of 2011, an increase of more than half a million, or 9.3 percent, over 2010 (Babson, 2013).

In this context we have experienced the rise of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). But what are MOOCs? Can we consider MOOCs a phenomenon associated with online education or just a continuation of the space associated with social media? Are they products of our neoliberal society? We will have a discussion about MOOCs and question of what the “C” means. Are MOOCs courses or online events? We will discuss how to teach in the open internet without learning outcomes. Finally, we will question the word “course” or at least demand a clarification of what constitutes a course. We will discuss an example of a MOOC I offered in spring 2013 at Berkeley City College.

Fabian Banga is the Chair of the Modern Languages Department and Distance Education Coordinator at Berkeley City College in Berkeley, CA. He holds a Ph.D. (2004) and M.A. in Hispanic Languages & Literature (2000) from the University of California, Berkeley. He has been a member of the Executive Committee of the Foreign Language Association of Northern California since the year 2000.

Soka Education Conference 2014

10th Annual Soka Education Conference

Soka University of America
Aliso Viejo, California

The Soka Education Student Research Project (SESRP) is a student-initiated and student-run project at Soka University. Project members engage in the study, research, and exhibition of Soka Education as a unique educational philosophy.

SUNDAY, February 16th, 3 p.m.

Banned Books and the Social Control of Knowledge

WITH Ryan Caldwell, Aneil Rallin, Kristi Wilson, Esther Chang and Tomas Crowder-Taraborrelli

Banned books during the last Argentine dictatorship

Book Burning Centro Editor de America Latina

Education makes us free. The world of knowledge and of the intellect is where all people can meet and converse. Education liberates people from prejudice. It frees the human heart from its violent passions

Daisaku Ikeda

Just this October, 2013, in Randolph County, North Carolina, Ralph Ellison’s historic award-winning novel The Invisible Man was banned by the Board of Education and labeled as “filthy” and devoid of “literary value.” Fortunately, in less than 48 hours, grassroots organization Color of Change created an online petition denouncing Randolph County’s local decision-makers for their complicity in the erasure of Black stories from the American literary landscape. The language of the petition stated that “the marginalization of Black stories in America’s schools will not be tolerated” and pointed to the dangerous fact that book banning is alive and well in many parts of the country: “ignorant, unjust policies that harm our communities are enacted by local decision makers all the time, often beneath the radar of national media and avoiding the scrutiny they deserve.” Color of Change pointed out that literary superstars like Toni Morrison and Richard Wright have also come under attack. This workshop explores the ongoing phenomenon of banned books from a theoretical perspective that engages with notions of power, ideology, knowledge creation and erasure at all levels of education from grade school to the university (where “banning” might take subtler forms like censorship). In addition, practical examples will be applied.

Many critical theorists have argued that knowledge creations are associated with power ideologies stating that modernist theory paradigmatically rests upon a foundation of reason and rationality as the privileged locus for both objectivity and claims of universal truth. Within this theoretical canopy, ideas of justice, fairness, and liberty have been conceptualized as products of the Western Enlightenment Project. As a part of this modernist paradigm, reason is defined as a coherent and healthy balance within society, where it is argued that rationality itself allows for the organism of society itself to function properly. This paradigm of modern thought, which directly informs foundational modern theoretical presuppositions, in turn comes to define notions of the “good,” and thus serves to both reify and maintain given modernist social constructions of reason and rationality. Furthermore, these modernist presuppositions instruct social conceptual schemes from which society is understood and organized. It is in this way that modernist notions of reason and rationality become the symbolic measure for theorizing and conceptualization, and subsequently the associated social constructions of knowledge that spring forth. These constructions themselves come to represent and function as the standard for thought, order, and the very basis of what some consider “respectable science”– and as applied to this workshop, “respectable book reading” and the further suppression of educational materials.

However, many have argued that modernist grand-narrative schema serve to facilitate an oppressive and privileged position that is justified with reference to only certain conceptions of reason and rationality, namely those conceptions of the socially powerful. Feminist and queer theorists, for example, argue in different ways that the voices or perspectives of those with little social power are silenced within modernist conceptual schemes ordered around patriarchal societies. This line of argument rests upon the idea that those with social power are able to dictate the standard of reason itself, thereby delineating its benchmark. This grand-narrative of reason serves as the basis for theory construction and informs feminist examinations of how science is done or understood, how knowledge is created, how gender is done, how sex categories are understood, how sexuality comes to be understood, among many other modes of feminist conjecture. Nonetheless, this kind of power can be used to socially construct oppressive schema for knowledge construction using race/ethnicity, capitalism, nationalism, and other forms of discriminatory theorizing.

Daisaku Ikeda warns, “Education should not be based on or limited by a nationalist agenda. Education must cultivate the wisdom to reject and resist violence in all its forms. It must foster people who intuitively understand and know—in their mind, in their heart, with their entire being—the irreplaceable value of human beings and the natural world. I believe such education embodies the timeless struggle of human civilization to create an unerring path to peace” ( It is this kind of warning about the agenda to ban books, surveillance around educational materials, educational censorship and erasures that we will discuss in this hands-on workshop.

Symposium on Latin American Cinema Studies-Theory & Practice- UCLA

Thursday, October 24th, 2013
2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
280 Charles E. Young Drive North

This event will be followed by a 5:30 p.m. film screening of DOG FLESH (Fernando Guzzoni, Chile, 2013) in ROYCE HALL 314 F, 340 Royce Drive.

We invite your participation in a symposium at UCLA designed to discuss and debate a diversity of approaches to the topic of Latin American cinema studies today. Latin American cinema studies have grown enormously in volume and quality the last few years. The field has produced conferences, essays and books, and specialized study groups dedicated to research in Latin American cinematographic representations. From comparative to national cinematography studies, from the studies of cinematographic to the gendered genres, from formal studies to historical ones, from theoretical studies to explorations of film distribution markets, among other areas of concentration, Latin American cinema is now debated widely around the world. 

DOG FLESH (courtesy of FIGA films)

Dr. Kristi M. Wilson (Soka University of America, Latin American Perspectives)
Dr. Javier Campo (CONICET, UNICEN, Argentina)
Dr. Tomas Crowder-Taraborrelli (Soka University of America, Latin American Perspectives)
Daniel Cooper (UCLA Department of Spanish and Portuguese)
Dr. Randal Johnson, interim Vice Provost for International Studies at UCLA and distinguished film scholar
Alex Garcia, FiGa films
Dr. Laura Isabel Serna, Assistant Professor of Critical Studies, USC.

*This event is co-sponsored by Latin American Perspectives (SAGE publications) and the Center for Argentina, Chile and the Southern Cone at UCLA.

With Alex Garcia, FiGa Films