Tessa van Westerop’s BA thesis about native stereotyping in Peter Pan (Utrecht University, 2021).
Over the past few decades, readers and viewers have become more critical of representations of minority groups, including representations of gender, race, and ethnicity. This has forced makers of new adaptations to critically think about how to adapt certain aspects of their older source text. This thesis investigates such an adaptation, namely the 2015 film Pan (directed by Joe Wright, based on J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan (1911)), which took a transcultural approach and transformed the controversial Native American tribe into an abstract, imagined, and multicultural community. Through close reading and close viewing, this thesis provides an analysis of the representation of the tribe in both Peter Pan and Pan and shows that despite Wright’s efforts to remove the Native American aspects of the story, the film still includes various Native American stereotypes and a white supremacist discourse, similar to those present in the novel. While this particular version does thus not succeed at removing these contested aspects, this thesis does argue that the approach could still be favourable but suggests further research is needed.