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FLAS Fellow passes orals for doctorate

Elena Bell in the frozen waves of the Arctic Ocean. Utqiagvik (former Barrow), 2015. Photo credit: L.S. Chekin.

March 23, 2020

Elena Bell, doctoral student in International Studies and FLAS Fellow in Inuktitut just passed her written and oral examinations!

Elena’s thesis is presently titled, “Through the Lens of Indigenous Filmmakers: Film as Cross-Border Communication. Her research will examine film as a tool of self-representation via case studies of Indigenous filmmaking in Nunavut, Canada and Sakha, Russia. She shares the experience of taking her written and oral examinations below:

“I took written preliminary exams to test my breadth of knowledge on the literature pertaining to my substantive area of interest (primary foundational field) and my regional area focus. My primary foundational field is “Religions, Cultures, Civilizations” and Indigenous Studies. The geographic area I focus on is the Arctic region.

The question I chose to answer during my exam prompted me to critically analyze film as “an instrument of Orientalism” and evaluate its prospects as an instrument of decolonization. My regional exam question invited me to think about the Arctic as an “emerging region”, analyzing a variety of views and perceptions of the High North—“from the outside in”, “from the inside out”, Indigenous vs. Western,  Arctic–centric vs. mainstream non–Arctic.

Grounding my work in the above foundational fields, I move forward with the dissertation research of film as a cross-border communication and self-representation tool, comparing the nature and effects of a recently developed phenomenon—a cinematic boom in Nunavut (Canada) and Sakha Republic (Russia).”

Elena Bell is a third-year student in the International Studies doctoral program in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies. She is also a third-year student in Inuktitut and has been awarded three Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowships for language study with both Mick Mallon and Alexina Kublu. Scott Radnitz is the chair of her doctoral committee; Tony Lucero and Nadine Fabbi serve as committee members.