Moving Image as chronotope of the Colonial Imagination

Presented by Bettina Malcomess

Monday, 20 March, 2017 - 15:00

This paper would like to explore some of my initial research for my PhD in film studies around the role of film in the production of the colonial imagination. The research aims to address the question of how cinematic form and mechanically moving images restructure perceptions of space and time for African audiences and for audiences outside of the continent who are exposed to films about Africa. The thesis thus explores the complicity of early film form and colonial propaganda, but also attempts to look beyond a simplistic reading of propaganda as indoctrination. Here, the intention is to look for potential disruptions of the colonial encoding of African subjects and spaces within the form of moving image and within the actual exhibition of films for African audiences by mobile cinema units. . The thesis builds on an existing body of work on the colonial film archive. I draw on several studies that rethink the limits of narratives of national cinema. This position allows for questions about the production of a mobile set of imaginaries that cohere in what I call colonial film form and its transnational circulation. To translate this question of film and perception to the colonial context, I draw on the work of key Postcolonial thinkers, Paul Gilroy and Eduard Glissant. This informs my treatment of 'moving image' as a type of colonial and postcolonial 'chronotope', operating in a similar way to the passage of the ship across the Atlantic in their books The Black Atlantic and The Poetics of Relation, respectively. Thus, like the 'ship', the 'moving image' can be read as a figure of both empire and modernity, a lens through which to trace the production of the colonial imagination of space and time. I would like to explore some footage from actuality and fake films of the Anglo-Boer War along with Colonial Film Productions within this paper, which lays the foundation for my first chapter for my PhD based in Film Studies at Kings College, London.

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