81 Pocahontas standing on a rock and John Smith Standing on another rock opposite her with water between them is just a metaphor for British colonialism.

Nicholas A. Prescott

And if you thought you would never see a title that long, you were wrong.

Let’s talk spatial organization in the scene of Pocahontas given…


here^. Jump to 1:20 in if you want to get to the nitty gritty.

There’s obviously an essence of space in colonial theory. The people of the colonizer must leave and inhabit the colonized land which is inherently different and new from their old one. We also come to understand coloniality as something that is linear, “… an unbidden, if disavowed, commitment to linear time and the idea of ‘development'” (R/R 1186).

We can clearly see that there is this idea of development here. Pocahontas (only after coming to contact with John Smith) learns to speak English. This happens after John exclaims “Here, let me help you out of there”. John is “helping” Pocahontas become like him and therefore better than she was before.

Pocahontas was, in that moment, colonized.

There’s something, though, to how space is arranged by Disney in the clip.

The colonial encounter here can be embodied by the image of John Smith standing, rifle loaded, on one rock with good old Pocahontas standing opposite on a different rock with the water between them.

Smith’s fire starts when he sees the figure through the waterfall. It persists once he’s burst through it and seen that across a body of water is a lovely girl woman that is most certainly of age.

They stand off for a moment and John lowers himself into the water and approaches her island, only to cause her to run away in fear (or disgust/confusion). This only serves to propel John to follow her and more forcefully come to contact with her.

If you’ve not gotten it by now, go look at a map, specifically this section of it.

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Get the picture yet?

The clip simplifies the spatial organization of the John and Pocahontas, but it also does so in a way that is cleverly indicative of how the larger landmasses the two come from are on the globe. Their interactions at the waterfall and by the tree, in reality, are a romanticized version of British colonialism; the colonized saw something that was beautiful for the taking and takes it whilst bettering it.

I’m watching you, Disney, and I’m coming for Aladdin’s lack of nipples next.

Image result for aladdin nipple


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The Student Theorist: An Open Handbook of Collective College Theory Copyright © 2018 by Nicholas A. Prescott is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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