DIGITAL RESEARCH SEMINAR 2018-2019
CFP – Cultural Studies : Issues, avenues, and contributions to research on African and Middle Eastern Cinemas
African and Middle Eastern Cinemas, despite their shifting national, regional, or continental definition, represent a collection of political, economic, social, and cultural contexts of specific ‘cinemas of small nations’ (Petrie dans Hjort) that have only recently attracted scholars’ attention.
The few important studies that have been carried out have remained isolated, such as the studies by Sadoul (1966) and Vieyra (1973). This situation is even more pronounced with respect to the numerous studies that have taken place in the countries in question, studies which rarely circulate beyond their borders, and often simply disappear. Thus, the circulation of knowledge and research about cinema in these regions is of fundamental importance and must be addressed.
Within French (and often French-speaking) academia, historians have been the principle motor for renewed investigations into cinema audiences, reception, and the role of film and cinema as a pastime and spectacle (Carlier 2013; Corriou 2011, 2013 ; Goerg 2015 ; Bouchard 2017). Most of these studies predominantly focus on the colonial and post-independence periods or on the economy of cinema (Forest 2011). The Anglophone scholars who have contributed to this area are predominantly in language and culture departments, in Francophone as well as African and Middle Eastern studies. Apart from the lively academic conversation around film festivals (Iordanova and Van de Peer 2014; Dovey 2015) and the international network Film Festival research as well as the around issues of transnational cinemas, their contributions mainly relate to specific films and filmmakers, marginalizing questions related to the economy, circulation, and reception of film, as well as its audiences and broader cinema culture. Another notable exception to the marginalization of such issues in African and Middle Eastern film studies is the stimulating research surrounding the Nigerian film industry, known as Nollywood, over the last two decades (Haynes 2000, 2011, 2017; Barrot 2009; Krings and Okome, 2013). Nollywood’s low-cost entertainment films have inundated the local, national, regional and diaspora markets but have also been emulated in countries such as Ghana and the Ivory Coast. One example would be the research concerning the ex-nihilo growth of new film industries in the Gulf (Mingant, forthcoming) and the circulation of films across Africa and the Middle East (Benchenna et al. 2016).
If we want to study the sites of production, circulation networks, and new formats of these cinemas, we need to look beyond the old frameworks of knowledge that prioritized national cinemas (reduced to completed films) as markers of national identity within newly independent countries. This is especially true given that there is now a wide variety of practices and processes related to film production and consumption that are not confined within national borders. One of HESCALE’s ambitions is to turn our attention away from the content of these films and to look instead at the networks of production and distribution and their actors, to explore how films are made, seen, distributed, and appreciated in the countries and regions that make up Africa and the Middle East.
In the framework of a research seminar, this year we are examining issues through the lens of critical and empirical approaches, such as ‘cultural studies’ and ‘reception studies’ that have considerably renewed investigations of culture since the 1980s in Anglo-American research communities and beyond (Hall, 1960, 1992 ; Appadurai, 1996) and its proponents in French academia (Macé et Maigret, 2005, etc.) since « À la recherche du public, » the first issue of a French journal dedicated to these approaches (Dayan 1992). Intersecting this line of questioning are issues of power (postcolonial and gender studies) representation, and uses (De Certeau 1980) which allow us to critically examine hierarchies, individual agency, modes of reception, etc.
This year, we will assess how these approaches modify the objects and methods of research, while laying the foundation for new hypotheses and points of departure for future investigations. We will also explore the new avenues of research put in place by these critical, empirical approaches:
- Political and cultural issues: Different approaches in the production of knowledge circulate within the disciplines and within the linguistic areas they come from (French-speaking vs. English-speaking academia) (Caillé 2010). Critical and empirical approaches that have become prevalent in Anglophone areas and beyond, have allowed us to reconceptualise cultural analysis, to rethink cultural hierarchies and the uses of cultural productions, etc. Have they contributed and can they contribute to research about film culture, and the circulation and reception of films in Africa and the Middle East?
- Economic issues: How should we analyse the networks of film circulation and distribution? How can we interpret this data? How can we establish a link between the modes of film production and its reception?
- Academic issues: Where and how are scholars who work on these topics trained? What are their preferred objects of study and research tools? What methods and terminology should be introduced in order to take these theoretical hybridizations into account?
A PRE-RECORDED VIDEO OF THE PRESENTATION (ABOUT 30 MINUTES), IS ACCESSIBLE VIA THE HESCALE WEBSITE TWO DAYS BEFORE THE SEMINAR. DISCUSSIONS TAKES PLACE ON LINE FROM 5.00 PM TO 6.00 PM (CET). AUDITORS WILL BE ABLE TO SEND THEIR COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS VIA EMAIL BEFORE THE SEMINAR.
PROVISIONAL SEMINAR DATES : FEBRUARY 7, MARCH 28, MAY 23, AND JUNE 5, 2019.
Organisers & moderators : Patricia Caillé (Université de Strasbourg) et Vincent Bouchard (Indiana University – Bloomington).
Contact : firstname.lastname@example.org