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Title: The screen as a hospitable border : analysing the ethics, aesthetics and politics of documentary films about migration and border-crossing experiences
Author: Pantoja Peschard, Maria Jose
ISNI:       0000 0004 5361 0187
Awarding Body: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Current Institution: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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My project aims to sketch out a theoretical framework to think about documentary films about migration and border-crossings in terms of their political potential. Thus, this work seeks to address the question of whether and how it is possible for these documentaries to give rise to political and ethical relationships that are not directly sanctioned by the nation-state and its sovereign power. In order to do this, I first draw on Jacques Derrida’s proposal of an ethics and politics of hospitality as an alternative conceptualization of political relations that, instead of being determined by membership to a nation-state and geo-political borders, are based on relations of responsibility and solidarity amongst individuals regardless of their citizenship status. Secondly, I argue that Ariella Azoulay’s triadic model of photography exemplifies Derrida’s notion of the ethics and politics of hospitality. For Azoulay, photography can give rise to political relations between the photographed, the photographer and the spectators. Since these relationships are not mediated by the nation-state and are based on partnership, solidarity and equality, I claim that they are relationships of hospitality that are able to disrupt the hierarchies of the social order. Thirdly, I argue that Azoulay’s triadic model can be transposed to the form of documentary, but that this transposition needs to acknowledge the fact that photography and documentary are two different visual media. Finally, I expand my analysis of this transposition by examining three contemporary documentaries about migration and drawing on the work of Jacques Rancière, Hito Steyerl and Trinh T. Minh-Ha. I discuss how the political and ethical bonds between filmmaker, filmed subject and spectators are shaped by the form and stylistic features of each of these documentaries. I conclude that documentaries are like borders, interstitial spaces, where the question of politics converges with questions of ethics and aesthetics.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available