Daniela Berghahn – The Child As Victim and Creator of Postnational Affiliations in Diasporic European Cinema

Event Date: 18-19 April 2016

Management Building Auditorium

Royal Holloway University of London
Egham, Surrey
TW20 0EX

The School of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Royal Holloway presents:

Childhood and Nation in World Cinema

Borders and Encounters since 1980

Professor Daniela Berghahn (Royal Holloway) – The Child As Victim and Creator of Postnational Affiliations in Diasporic European Cinema

In this paper I will explore the figure of the child in diasporic European cinema, tracing two prominent themes: the death of the child and the child’s ability to create elective familial bonds that disavow the significance of natural kinship. Drawing on Marianne Hirsch’s (1999) discussion of children in Holocaust films, I propose that the vulnerable child who dies as a result of hazardous migratory journeys (Journey of Hope) and honour killings (When We Leave) invites multiple projections and identifications and functions as a powerful melodramatic device.  Based on the premise that the family serves as a trope of national belonging, I will examine how children form voluntary affiliations with surrogate fathers (Tour Abroad, Couscous, West is West, Monsieur Ibrahim) that call the legitimacy of the traditional patriarchal family into question and, by implication, advocate the notion of post-national belonging (Hollinger 2000), based on consent rather than descent.

Daniela Berghahn is Professor of Film Studies in the Media Arts Department at Royal Holloway, University of London. She has widely published on post-war German cinema, the relationship between film, history and cultural memory and transnational cinema. Her extensive work on migrant and diasporic cinema in Europe has been supported by the AHRC and is documented on the websites www.farflungfamilies.net and www.migrantcinema.net. Her publications include Head-On (BFI Film Classics 2015), Far-Flung Families in Film: The Diasporic Family in Contemporary European Cinema (Edinburgh UP, 2013), European Cinema in Motion: Migrant and Diasporic Film in Contemporary Europe (co-edited with Claudia Sternberg, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010) and Hollywood Behind the Wall: The Cinema of East Germany (Manchester UP, 2005). She is currently developing a research project that explores the decentered exotic in contemporary transnational cinema.

Introduction by Professor Emma Wilson (Cambridge):






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