Gender in transit

Framing the cinema of migration

Authored by: Sumita S. Chakravarty

The Routledge Companion to Cinema and Gender

Print publication date:  November  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138924956
eBook ISBN: 9781315684062
Adobe ISBN: 9781317408055


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Immigration is, arguably, the hot button issue of our time, rivaling in scope and complexity the role that “the national question” and “the Jewish question” played in previous eras. Not a day goes by without a news story of boats of migrants adrift at sea, of refugees who have drowned and asylum seekers who were turned away. A strong undertow of concern in host countries is the long-term effect of such migrations on local populations and cultures. From Australia to Indonesia and Malaysia to Lampedusa, in Italy and other European countries, migration is indeed a worldwide political, economic, and humanitarian problem. Not surprisingly, such ubiquity is reflected in the increasing body of work in cinema, both commercial and independent, documentary and fictional, male-centered, female-centered, and child-centered, in which filmmakers have tried to capture the experience of migrants and the impact of migration on host societies. There is also a growing critical literature on migration cinema that examines themes of exile and abjection (Naficy 2001; Marciniak 2006; Palmer 2011), home and belonging (Gedalof 2011; Kraenzle 2009; Yi 2015), borders and boundaries (Shepherd 2010 for Spanish film and literary texts; Capussotti 2003 and Luciano and Scarparo 2010 in relation to Italian migration; Levine 2008 for beur cinema in France), migrant subjectivity (Capussotti 2003; Podalsky 2010), institutional structures and cultural policy (Grassilli 2008), multiculturalism and transnationalism in metropolitan centers (Oliete 2010), history and memory (Mitchell 2013; Portuges in Sherzer 1996). New journals such as Mobilities and Crossings: Journal of Migration and Culture, started in 2006 and 2010 respectively, are devoted exclusively to the cultural dimensions of human migration. In short, migration has emerged as a key epistemology in the contemporary world.

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