Opinions are solely mine. My hope is to contribute to some sort of collective memory about what videos work well as teaching tools.
Adam Smith and the Wealth of Nations UW-Tacoma
Lib. Media Videorecord TAC-605
Made by the Liberty Fund; portrays Smith as proto-Thatcherite. Classroom repair needed if this is the only view students get.
Africa BOT 557 (4 parts) (Basil Davidson)
Strong political history; Perhaps best used in excerpts because sheer volume of history overwhelms students.
Americas: Capital Sins EMC
Brazil 1960s-80s. Good and focused; main thread is labor, with extensive interviews with Lula and military government figures.
Americas: Continent on the Move EMC
Great documentary on a Mexican family and others in late 1980s. Migration, urban informal sector. About an hour.
Americas: Garden of Forking Paths EMC
Argentina in 20th century. Disjointed and covers too much, but provides a sense of Peronism.
Anatomy of Crisis BOT in cataloging
Milton Friedman's argument that the U.S. Great Depression was caused by bungled monetary policy. Friedman at his best, clear and controversial.
Asante Market Women EMC VC-0350
Organization of vegetable marketing by commodity-specific associations. Interesting material but provides an overly-static picture of tradition.
Banking on Disaster OUGL Media Library BFI 009-011
Rondonia Road Project in Brazil. Very well-made, sympathetic both to indigenous forest dwellers and to invading colonists, provides a complex sense of political economy of Gov't policy and World Bank despite its obvious view that World Bank is in league with the Devil. Long, though -- 3 segments of almost 30 minutes each, and you would miss a lot if you excerpted because one of the best features is the way the video follows one colonist family through several years. 1988.
Battle of the Titans EMC VC-1756
Provides a strong case in favor of low-wage free-trade areas, and free trade in general. Veers into sensationalism when it implies that vengeful third world nations will nuke us if we don't buy their stuff. And what's the point of the footage mocking rich Nigerians? Still, one of the least-boring films out there on an econ topic. Highly excerptable. 54 minutes, 1993?
Bitter Cane Tac 977
Dated (Baby Doc period), and too intent on fitting everything into one historical materialist interpretation, but strong stuff and easy to excerpt. Covers coffee, sugar, U.S. invasion, politics, and assembly industries.
Bombay Our City UW South Asia Program
Early Patwardhan. One hour of this is too long for classroom use, and the dead baby is sheer bathos, but the first 20 minutes provide a great picture of urban migrants. Mid-1980s.
Buck Stops in Brazil EMC
Made just before 1982 debt crisis broke out, and a little cheesy in places, but remarkably good at providing a sense of how debt worked and the interaction between bankers and government. About 26 min, but you can stop it after about 18 minutes and get the main points.
Buried Mirror BOT 337 (5 parts)
5-part series on history of Spain and Latin America narrated by Carlos Fuentes. Does a good job of narrating history and tying in the region's history with that of Spain and Europe. Some efforts to tie in cultural history work, others veer into Fuentesian self-indulgence.
Coffee Break EMC
Nicaraguan coffee workers in 1997. Well-made, though 27 minutes is a lot of time to make the point that coffee-pickers are paid low wages and have bad working conditions. But highly excerptable -- first 5-10 minutes would get main idea across. Discusses informal sector work briefly.
Connections OUGL Media Library AVP 173-182 (BOT
purchasing, along with Connections 2)
Engaging, free-associating series on technology. Students like it. Excerpts can help illuminate issues of economic growth, change, and labor, but because the thread follows technological ideas, hopscotching around history, you have to excerpt carefully.
The Crash BOT-1380
Frontline documentary covering Mexico's 1994 devaluation, 1997 Asian crises, 1998 Russian default. Remarkably good on short-term capital flows, assuming students know something about exchange rates. Last part is set up to argue for capital controls, but vague as to what or how. 60 min.
Dadi's Family EMC
Farming family in Haryana. An anthro classic, with a lot of nuance and complexity -- provides a means to explore gender dynamics within a patrilineal, patrilocal kin structure. 30 min.
Emerging Powers: Brazil, India,Mexico
1-hour paeans to neoliberalism, made around 1996. Although set in different countries, none of these is really "about" its country. The scant information is touristic, simplistic, and sometimes so partial as to be badly misleading. Nor are these really documentaries about policy. They all assume that no policy debate exists -- not a word of serious dissent is voiced -- and even the interesting questions that are debated among neoliberal policymakers, like the sequencing of reforms, are ignored. Instead we get interviews with interchangeable entrepreneurs who obligingly relate how obstructionist government used to be. One could use ten minutes of one of these (any 10 minutes would do; I've used minutes 30 to 40 of the Brazil video) to illustrate the way that neoliberal reform relies on entrepreneurs, but you need class time to unpack and straighten out the arguments. A more adventuresome use would be to play clips of several of the movies back-to-back, and let students pull out the underlying story.
Free Trade Slaves Odegaard Media Videorecord FFH
8011 58 minutes
Labor and environmental issues surrounding free trade areas. Provides a nice introduction to free trade areas, and examples from El Salvador, Sri Lanka, and Morocco. Not as polished as Global Assembly Line and there is less effort to provide more than one view. On the other hand the low production values, including film from a camera smuggled into a Salvadoran factory, work to provide a certain immediacy. Would be interesting to pair this with a very slick film in favor of free trade areas like Battle of the Titans. Second half of the film focuses on environmental consequences, in particular birth defects in the U.S.-Mexican border area.
Freedom Bags Tacoma Media Videorecord TAC-1140
Interviews with a number of black women who worked as maids in Washington D.C. in the 1930s. One of those plodding PBS-style documentaries of talking heads, still pictures, and voice-over, but the interviews are good enough to make it work. A good movie for thinking about the work that domestics do, and its gender and race contexts and meanings.
Global Assembly Line 1/2 hour version at UWB (BOT
1093), 1-hour at Tac 481
Partisan, but a classic both in management quotes it elicits and its rich portrayal of workers' lives. One-hour version best.
Great Depression BOT 995 (7 parts)
Very strong -- amazing use of interviews. I have used "A Job at Ford's" and "Road to Rock Bottom."
Inside the Global Economy BOT 1219 (13 parts)
A "telecourse" with a Perfesser talking and showing powerpoint slides, plus stilted discussions with groups of economists. But includes filmed case studies from different parts of the world, some of them quite good and useful as short classroom illustrations.
John Maynard Keynes: Life, Ideas, Legacy BOT 1189
Well-made film whose three 20-minute segments are well-adapted for classroom use. Made and narrated by Mark Blaug, and characteristically smart and clear and actually useful at conveying economic ideas. But also quite conservative, both in its avoidance of JMK's gayness and in the right-weighted lineup of economists interviewed in the final "legacy" segment.
Kamala and Raji (ILL)
Self-Employed Women's Association in Ahmedabad. Provides a very good sense of SEWA's work and some illustration of urban occupations like beedi-making and vegetable-selling. Stuff on gender roles is predictable, but good. 45 minutes.
Man and the Biosphere: Urban Ecology (ILL)
Lackluster compare-contrast of Abidjan and Barcelona, with voice-over lecture accompanied by interminable aerial footage of the two cities. Later material on squatter settlements in Abidjan is marginally more interesting, but God forbid they should interview actual settlers -- we get only a couple of gov't officials plus more voice-over lecture. 24 minutes.
Mexico for Sale Tac 454
42 minutes of anti-NAFTA talking heads. Would be deadly in the classroom. Smart people -- various Mexican academics and political figures -- but a totally unnecessary film, because this material is much easier to deal with as text.
Mini-Dragons II: Indonesia Tac 657 part 1
Cliched and uncritical -- swallows the Suharto line on Indonesian history and development whole. Could be used as an example of military-developmentalist ideology. 1993.
Mini-Dragons II: Malaysia Tac 657 part 2
Not much better than the Indonesia movie, but the worshipful material on assembly industries here makes a nice contrast with videos like Global Assembly Line or Bitter Cane. Some material on ethnicity. 1993.
Mini-Dragons II: Thailand Tac 657 part 3
Slightly more interesting than the first two, but still stuck in the modern/traditional dichotomy, and unctuously condescending to those judged "traditional." Follows a Chinese entrepreneur, a couple of rural migrants, and monks protesting logging. 1993.
Modern Heroes, Modern Slaves BOT
Filipino migrant workers, mainly maids. Starts on an emotional note around the Flor Contemplacion case, but does a very good job exploring reasons for migration, and its macroeconomic importance, as well as its sadder consequences.
Narmada Diary (by Anand Patwardhan) In the collection
of the UW South Asian program
Strong documentary on Narmada River Valley hydro project and indigenous opposition. 1 hour.
Nini Pantun: Rice Cultivation and Rice Rituals in Bali
Anthro is main focus, but provides a good description of how rice is farmed and a certain amount of social context.
Politics of Food EMC
World according to Food First. Made in mid-1980s and links up US farm crises of that time with debt crisis and hunger. But simplistic in some areas, including a readiness to blame MNCs for anything.
Power of Place OUGL Media Library 26 parts (in
Another "telecourse" with a Perfesser-on-video. Some of the case studies are good, though less fast-paced and interesting than the average case study in Inside the Global Economy.
Producing Miracles Every Day UW-Tacoma Lib. Media
Informal-sector projects in Latin America. Condescending toward informal sector workers and simplistic in its solutions.
Red Capitalism (Filmaker's Library)
1995 documentary on Guangdong. As march-of-capitalism videos go, it's pretty good. Tells a number of individual stories, including two about workers that are quite nicely done. 60 min.
Seed and Earth (Filmakers Library)
36 minutes of people doing stuff in a West Bengal village -- planting, husking, worshipping, chatting. Gorgeous photography, but it's one of these we're-too-cool-to-narrate documentaries so there's no clear point, and it doesn't spend long enough on any aspect of life to build a sustained or complex picture.
Seeds of Plenty, Seeds of Sorrow BOT 1204
Fine critical 1-hour documentary on Green Rev in India, using local interlocutors and spending a lot of time with migrant workers from Bihar. Interviews Borlaug in India and Mexico.
Solving Real Problems BOT
IMF movie, very clear and liked by students. Ruritania gets in trouble and the IMF saves it. Using an imaginary nation avoids the problem that things seldom turn out so well in real countries, and it won't go out of date.
Spend and Prosper: A Portrait of John Maynard Keynes
More time on Bloomsbury and JMK as a gay man than John Maynard Keynes: Life, Ideas, Legacy, but unfocused -- the variety of Keynes' life simply defeats the filmmakers and you end up with a bunch of interviews.
This Land is Our Land EMC
Made by Maryknoll about Brazilian land struggles. Low production values, and more interested in showing good and bad guys than doing social analysis. (Less interesting and complex than Banking on Disaster.) Makes oversweeping claims about gov't and MNCs.
Time of Women (By Monica Vasquez, available through
Women Make Movies or ILL)
Ecuadoran farming village where most of the men have left to work in the USA. Good interviews, and touching, but not a lot of content. 20 min.
Vietnamese Bike Dreams (Filmmakers Library)
People and their scooters in Ho Chi Minh City. Superficial and feel-good, but well-made and might give students a sense of lives of mid-income urban people. 24 min.
When Women Unite: The Story of an Uprising
80 minute docu-drama on the early-90s prohibition movement in Andhara Pradesh. Great subject, and the movie does a fair job of story-telling, though complexity is sacrificed to film's need to have heroes and villains.
With These Hands (ILL)
Provides a good sense of African women farmers as people. Unfortunately, draws on stereotypes of idle African men to make some of its points.
Women in the Third World UW-Tacoma Lib. Media Videorecord
Simplistic, but might be useful at intro level.
You Can't Eat Potential EMC
Pure Green Revolution advocacy, focusing on East Africa. Includes Borlaug; might be a good compare-contrast to Seeds of Plenty. Some ecological detail.