Salt Of The Earth By Michael Wilson

1216 Words Apr 9th, 2015 5 Pages
Salt of the Earth by Michael Wilson (1954)
Review by Sophie Alves
(MAS 585)

Women have often played an important role in advocating social justice. However, they have rarely been credited for their efforts and actions. Indeed, the research or narratives on social movements too often focus on male experiences. Yet, a gendered approach to social movements is crucial, because women’s experiences differ from men’s, as do their reasons for becoming involved with any type of activism, be it political or social. The movie Salt of the Earth by Michael Wilson (1954) illustrates those differences and emphasizes the importance of understanding the role played by individual and collective identity in political action. How does one’s social identity shape one’s involvement in political action? In this movie, women get involved in a strike; they become visible activists and no longer just the shadows of their husbands. Yet, their depiction in the movie presents them as essentially mothers and wives, inscribing their actions in the realm of domesticity. Thus, their actual agency remains in question.

Salt of the Earth depicts a miners’ strike in which the miners’ picketing is blocked by the Taft-Hartley injunction, which restricts the power and actions of labor unions. Since the injunction only prevents men from going on a strike and not women, the miners’ wives take over the picket line, challenging their husbands’ male supremacy. The film highlights the fact that political action or…
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