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Identity in Postmillennial German Films on Africa

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Shikuku Emmanuel Tsikhungu

This book is a literary and cultural investigation of the different levels of identity as revealed in German films on and about Africa. Taking sexual, spatial, linguistic and body identities as its core concern, the book elucidates how the contemporary German film narratives on Africa binarize bordeline cultural and geographical identities. While this binarism assigns the metropolitan status to the German, the African is relegated to the margins in the human socio-geocultural aspects. The book contradicts this kind of binary narration as it argues that trans-border identities are fraught with complexities that cannot be simply straitjacketed. It celebrates those moments where the narratives challenge the existing boundaries at the interstice between the North and the South. It further celebrates the moments where the film narratives recognize the complexity of cultures by acknowledging the disruptiveness and continuities of linguistic, cultural, sexual, spatial and body identities especially at the contact zone of Germany and Africa.
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3.0 Language, Identity and Representation

Extract

What is the truth of language but a mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms- in short, a sum of human relations, which have been enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they are.1

Narrative language i.e. the language that a literary text is produced in is understood in postcolonial criticism as one of the features within which issues of hegemony of race and the assumed notions of cultural knowledge and power come to play.2 Film is not an exception as the language that a film is produced in affects not just its audience but those cultures whose story is told. It is even more telling when the film tells a story of a culture in which the language of the film differs markedly from the language of that culture and thus bringing in issues of linguistic transfer from one cultural context to the next. This is qualified with the argument that films that tell trans-cultural stories have to overcome linguistic barriers in one way or another if they hope to transcend homogeneity and exclusions. One knows the ‘other’ in his or her language and this ‘knowing’ creates the location of solidarity or exclusion. Language is thus seen as a form of talk that allows a culture to render its experiences and these experiences are rendered in exclusivity or inclusivity of other languages...

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