Foreignness and the Other

The Archeological Institute of America (AIA) says "it promotes archaeological inquiry and public understanding of the material record of the human past to foster an appreciation of diverse cultures and our shared humanity." (Source)

We're unsure how long Indy has been practicing archeology when Temple of Doom begins, but one of the first things we see Indy do is bargain the remains of a Chinese emperor for a diamond. We don't think this falls under "foster[ing] an appreciation of diverse cultures." Indy grows a bit in his attitude toward other cultures during the film, but he still has a way to go.

Questions About Foreignness and the Other

  1. How does Temple of Doom weave actual culture and history into its story? What can you learn about the time period from this movie?
  2. Which characters fall into the category of "the other"? How does Indy treat them? 
  3. Are some characters more "other" than others? Why?
  4. Can Temple of Doom be seen as an allegory for imperialism? How?
  5. This film is heavily inspired by Gunga Din. How does each film handle its depiction of non-white characters?

Chew on This

For an archeologist, Indiana Jones is incredibly insensitive to other cultures. Foreignness in Temple of Doom is played as a joke, or something to be afraid of.

However, Indy learns to appreciate the village, and he returns the stone to them instead of selling it to a museum. Good on you, Jones.

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