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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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7.0 Conclusions

Extract

In fact, until Hollywood and European cinemas cultivate alternative modes of representing Africa, its peoples and its cultural practices; until Afro-European relationships move into the realm of equal recognition of each other’s cultural norms and values, and until Europeans learn to recognize the humanity of Africans, their films set in Africa will continue to be constrained by colonialist thought.1

Shohat and Stam have maintained that cinema has been a source of hegemonic construction of what Maule calls ‘Eurocentric imperial imaginary’ due to its consolidation as the apparatus of the bourgeoisie’s society, predicated upon the production of master narratives.2 This book has adopted their multiple definitions of Eurocentricism as a notion that normalizes, embeds and takes for granted ‘the hierarchical power relations generated by colonialism and imperialism.’3 In their opinion, cinema’s imperialist mandate has continued also after the end of colonialism, hidden in submerged elements of the narrative or manifest in the 1980s and 1990s European cinema’s revival of imperialist epics and dramas.4

To what extent do these imperialist epic and drama patterns reverberate even in today’s relations between Germany and Africa as can be gleaned from the postmillennial filmic narratives of Germany set and shot on location in Africa? Bearing in mind that films are part of a larger framework and historical contexts that reflect the established economic, political and cultural ties between Africa and Germany, this book has, through the interrogation of a selected eight German films, unveiled what can be called inflections of Eurocentric...

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