Oppositional spaces: An evaluation of post-nationalist film theory using the work of migrant, exilic and diasporic filmmakers

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis evaluates the usefulness of post-nationalist theory in developing and understanding existing debates around national cinemas in film studies. Whilst a great deal of research has focused on the significance and importance of national cinemas, changes in the international landscape have offered challenges to the value of national cinema as a concept. To date, these challenges have been primarily addressed within discussion of transnational cinema which, although useful, has yet to fully interrogate the power relationships between nations. The importance of post-nationalist theory in this regard is that it deliberately seeks out texts which explore these power structures and often focuses on contact zones in which the dominant nationalism, and therefore national cinema, is being overtly opposed and undermined. The central question addressed by this thesis is ‘How can post-nationalist theory advance cinematic debates concerning national and transnational cinemas?’ In order to address this, the films of several migrant, exilic and diasporic filmmakers will be discussed as case studies. This is because their hyphenated identities offer access to a greater number of nationalisms, and also highlight a state of rootlessness in which oppositional positions can be more easily adopted. The filmmakers discussed are: Fatih Akin, whose work offers representations of migrant figures and literal border crossings; Ferzan Ozpetek, who expands these migrant representations to include issues of sexuality and class as non-official nationalisms; Atom Egoyan, whose cinematic style opposes cinematic forms, conventions and nations; Michael Haneke, whose films engage in an overtly oppositional style; and Gurinder Chadha, as a filmmaker who not only uses gender to advance these debates, but also enters them into discussion with mainstream cinema. The thesis will apply close textual analysis to each of the directors’ work in order to illustrate how post-nationalist theory can be used to understand the oppositional spaces they create in relation to nations and national cinemas. This will demonstrate not only the relevance of post-nationalist theory to cinema, but also develop current understanding of the strengths and limitations of the conceptual and theoretical work associated with national and transnational cinemas.
Original languageEnglish
  • Hutchings, Peter, Supervisor
  • Leggott, James, Supervisor
Publication statusIn preparation - Nov 2013


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