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Title: Postcolonial popcorn : contemporary Maghrebi-French cinema and its audiences
Author: Hastie, Alexander
ISNI:       0000 0004 7425 7239
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis is a study of popular contemporary postcolonial cinema, through readings of three recent Maghrebi-French films. The research is comprised of the films Days of Glory (2006), Outside the Law (2010) and Free Men (2011), which narrate unfamiliar colonial stories in familiar ways. The films are a significant part of a cultural and commercial ‘shift’ toward more mainstream filmmaking in France, and therefore provide a fascinating and complex point of entry into the study of popular postcolonial cinema. By incorporating the popular into the postcolonial, the primary contribution of this thesis is that it extends the scope of postcolonial cultural criticism, in order to highlight how such an engagement functions to interrupt hegemonic imaginaries of colonial space, memory and gender. Informed by a postcolonial critique, this thesis deploys textual analysis in order to investigate how the films are textually constituted across and through different cultural frameworks, questioning what this means for conceptualising postcolonialism. Primarily investigating the ways in which the films rewrite colonial histories using the genre conventions of Hollywood, this thesis attends to issues pertinent to postcolonial France. The thesis therefore identifies some of the key relationships to space that are narrated throughout the films, in which geographies of belonging and exclusion for Maghrebi-French people are articulated through popular aesthetics. An important part of articulating place is memory, and so this thesis also examines how occluded memories are mobilised and energised at the intersection with more familiar historical imaginaries, showing how this multidirectional relationship works to situate colonial histories in ways that are disruptive of World War Two imaginaries. This thesis also makes contributions to understandings of masculinity, by offering readings of Maghrebi-French male characters through which emerge popular postcolonial masculinities that draw upon masculinist Hollywood types, to produce new hybrid types of anti-colonial gangster, infantilised colonial soldier and Muslim spy. This thesis also examines how contemporary English-speaking Western audiences engage with the films in online reception spaces, and thus what is at stake in making postcolonial film more accessible. Using discourse analysis, this thesis attends to the different ways audiences respond to, reproduce and transform the meanings of the films in particular social and political settings. In doing so, it will be seen that the films are important sites of consumption and identity contestation, particularly around issues of geopolitics, masculinity, and whiteness, and a point of encounter through which the power relations in watching and consuming foreign-language films in ‘the West’ will be scrutinised. Therefore, in the course of this study, contemporary Maghrebi-French filmmaking is framed in terms of its appeal to popular audiences, and it will be seen that it is beginning to carve out new space for itself in world cinema, with audiences playing an important role in what that space will look like in the future.
Supervisor: Phillips, Richard ; Olund, Eric Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available