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Visions of Empire and Other Imaginings

Cinema, Ireland and India 1910-1962


Jeannine Woods

This book was shortlisted for the ESSE Junior Scholars book award for Cultural Studies in English, 2012

Since its inception cinema has served as a powerful medium that both articulates and intervenes in visions of identity. The experiences of British colonialism in Ireland and India are marked by many commonalities, not least in terms of colonial and indigenous imaginings of the relationships between colony or former colony and imperial metropolis. Cinematic representations of Ireland and India display several parallels in their expressions and contestations of visions of Empire and national identity. This book offers a critical approach to the study of Ireland’s colonial and postcolonial heritage through a comparative exploration of such filmic visions, yielding insights into the operations of colonial, nationalist and postcolonial discourse.
Drawing on postcolonial and cultural theory and employing Bakhtin’s concept of dialogism, the author engages in close readings of a broad range of metropolitan and indigenous films spanning an approximately fifty-year period, exploring the complex relationships between cinema, colonialism, nationalism and postcolonialism and examining their role in the (re)construction of Irish and Indian identities.


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Acknowledgements ix


Acknowledgements I am indebted to many people for help with the research and writing of this book. Heartfelt thanks to Sean Ryder for his excellent guidance and direc- tion and for steadfast encouragement. Deepest thanks to Luke Gibbons, Lionel Pilkington and Tadhg Foley for insights, advice and suggestions. Thanks to Steve Coleman for inspiring my enthusiasm, not least for the work of Bakhtin, and to Tony Ballantyne for a wonderful introduction to the study of India. Thanks to the staf f of the James Hardiman Library in NUI Galway, Sunniva O’Flynn and the Irish Film Archive, Máire Aoibhinn Ní Ógáin in TG4 and Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, OÉ Gaillimh. Research for this book was made possible by the generous support of a Government of Ireland Scholarship awarded by the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences. For their support, belief and encouragement I am deeply grateful to col- leagues, friends and family. Thanks to Terry O’Sullivan for a beginning and much more, to Michael Murphy for inspiration and to Susan Lindsay for assistance with writing management. Thanks to Máire Grif fith for unfailing support and to Sonja, Martina, Niamh and Margarita and to Deirdre and Caleb Cairns and family for endless generosity. Profound thanks to Fiona and Andrew, Vanessa and John and especially to my son, Odhrán.

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