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Title: Gender and space in post-colonial French and Algerian cinema
Authors: Sharpe, Mani
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis explores representations of narrative space and gender in 1960s French and Algerian cinema; an era marked, in both countries, by the spectre of the Algerian War of Independence (1954-1962). Until now, the two forms of cinema which arose out of this war have rarely been analysed in relation to each other. Doing so provides a crucial insight into how the dynamics of decolonization led to analogous patterns of cinematic representation- particularly in relation to patterns of gender and space. This thesis will be split into four chapters. In the first chapter, I provide a general overview of my methodological approach, the specific theorists that have informed my research, and a socio-cultural overview of the period focusing in particular on issues of space and gender. The second chapter will then shift to textual analysis, illustrating how a number of French films of the period, including Adieu Philippine (Rozier 1962), La Belle vie (Enrico 1963), Muriel ou le temps d’un retour (Resnais 1963), and Le Boucher (Chabrol 1969), critique a post-colonial modernization drive predicated upon neo-colonial processes of spatial marginalization in representing the domestic sphere as ‘contaminated’ by the figure of a traumatised appelé. In this respect, patterns of narrative space will shown to be intrinsically intertwined with the politics of anti-colonial resistance. In the second half of this chapter, I will show how this desire to critique colonialism coexists with a gendered conservatism which elides or in some cases completely ignores the feminist agenda pursued by women (and men) during the 1960s. The third chapter will then discuss how the attainment of national sovereignty impacted upon Algerian cinema of the period. Within this framework, I will firstly show how La Bataille d’Alger (Pontecorvo 1966), Le Vent des Aurès (Lakhdar-Hamina 1966) and L’Opium et le bâton (Rachedi 1969) use representations of spatial transgression (from the private to the public realm) as a signifier for anti-colonial resistance. Nevertheless- as with the French films of the era- I will then draw attention to the ways in which these films draw from a constellation of retrograde gendered ideals in their depiction of the Revolution. The fourth chapter will then explore the few films which do not fit into this taxonomy, instead using patterns of narrative space in order to critique patriarchal ideology. In this section, I will explore films including Cléo de 5 à 7 (Varda 1962), Elise ou la vraie vie (Drach 1970), La Bataille d’Alger (Pontecorvo 1966), and La Nouba des Femmes du Mont Chenoua (Djebar 1978). In focusing primarily upon the politics of representation, I believe that this project will facilitate a crucial methodological shift, from the largely ahistorical and apolitical approaches which have previously dominated critical discourse on this period, to an approach instead rooted in the socio-cultural and political reality of the era.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Modern Languages

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