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    David Hawkins: a battle of the mind

    Qamar Faruqi, N. (2017) David Hawkins: a battle of the mind. [Video]

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    The story of David Hawkins, the youngest of 21 Americans who ‘chose China’ at the end of the Korean conflict. Combining archival footage with new oral history interviews, the film brings to life Hawkins’ remarkable experiences during this crucial period in the history of ‘mind control’. It considers the ambiguities of autobiography, using the various, intertwined versions of Hawkins’s story to shed light both on Cold War politics and the changing ways in which we interpret, and pathologise, personal trauma. David Hawkins: A Battle of the Mind was shortlisted for the AHRC’s Best Research Film of the Year Award 2017. The judges said: “This is a film that equals anything broadcast but is the direct output of an extensive research project. The research and use of film archive is quite brilliant and its combination with interview explores the multiple levels at which the concepts of hidden persuasion interacted with political ideologies across the cold war.”‘ Film synopsis: In 1953, aged just 19, David Hawkins was one of 21 American prisoners of war who chose to live in communist China rather than return to the US after the Korean War. The decision of the ‘21 who stayed’ led to widespread public scrutiny in the US; they were branded as communist agents, weak-willed turncoats, and victims of a powerful new psychological warfare technique: ‘brainwashing’. Hawkins encountered the power of these claims when he returned to the US in 1957. Yet he found them largely alien to his experiences in China. When the Hidden Persuaders Project first contacted Hawkins in the fall of 2014, he had only recently begun to find words and concepts that could convey what he had faced. David Hawkins: A Battle of the Mind (2017), directed by Nasheed Qamar Faruqi, combines Hawkins’ extraordinary life story, the research of The Hidden Persuaders Project, and Faruqi’s skill in using film as a mode for exploring the psyche. Blending oral history and archival footage, Faruqi‘s film traces Hawkins’ journey to China and back to American soil, following the choices he made and how they have been interpreted and re-interpreted by the media, politicians, ‘psy’ professionals and Hawkins himself. This film presents a challenging narrative that frames the ‘battle’ for Hawkins’ mind as a search for self-understanding.


    Item Type: Video
    Additional Information: About the Hidden Persuaders' Documentaries: The Hidden Persuaders research group has collaborated with independent filmmakers to produce several short documentaries that are freely available to view on our website. The films investigate ideas about brainwashing and mind control both through compelling life stories and wide-ranging cultural analysis. Taken together, these documentaries illustrate the many ways in which, from the Cold War era to the present day, autonomy of mind has been threatened, or perceived to be threatened, by a range of cultural forces.
    School: School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > History, Classics and Archaeology
    Depositing User: Sarah Hall
    Date Deposited: 23 Aug 2021 17:12
    Last Modified: 01 Feb 2022 11:36


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