In “Can the Subaltern Speak?” Spivak makes the claim that the Subaltern, a term that is hard to define but in some sense can be thought of the as “the least powerful group of the most colonized people”, (shout out to Sarah for that summary video that helped a lot) have no “voice” or way of truly telling their stories. Rather the colonialist scholars tell their version of the subaltern’s story. In doing so the true power is taken from these people even if many are out there to help.
What often seems to happen is that “experts” and/or “reporters” will report on what is happening with the subaltern but what we consume is there version of it, not their first hand experience and in that process something is guaranteed to be lost. This is something we studied extensively in my Endangered Languages class. The idea that many tribes would often rather have their language die undocumented than have some linguist or some reporter possibly get rich of it can be striking and tough to deal with. There were even certain aspects of languages that the Linguist couldn’t report for it would ruin the sacredness of it. That battle between trying to do what is “right” in our society vs what is “right” in their culture is extremely tough and may never be truly solved. How can people every tell their stories if their stories will never be the true experience? Is it worth having a muddied down story just so something is there and so the world knows something?
In looking at the film “Unveiled”, the idea of subaltern is hard to apply. How do we define the “least” represented group? But if we do for a moment take that the main character is a subaltern, it begins to bring into question whether the story being told is authentic. Watching the film the world she once lived in and being in extreme trouble seemed realistic to me but that may have only been because my consumption and experience with that life is all from media, whether it be news or films. It does bring into question whether the genre of the film or the way you consume these ideas changes their true authenticity or just their authenticity in our minds.