Examining Pakistani Identity in Non-Western Cinema in the Post 9/11 Landscape
Pakistanis in Hollywood films and US television shows have largely been depicted as a threat to the western world. Television shows such as Homeland and Numbers, and films like G.I Joe and Zero Dark Thirty, have resorted to stereotypical depictions of Pakistanis. Their portrayal has been particularly virulent after 9/11. Given that most Pakistanis identify themselves as Muslims, Pakistani identity has been automatically subjected to racial profiling and surveillance by the US state apparatus following the September 11 attacks. As a Pakistani studying in North America, I decided to focus my MA research on exploring this fractured identity in the post 9/11 landscape. I chose to do this through films as they inform people’s interpretations of the world, of themselves, and of others. This talk will specifically consider non-Western films, which I argue offer a counter narrative to mainstream Hollywood’s treatment of Pakistanis. I will be examining this through two non-Western films, Khuda Ke Liye (In the Name of God), and The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Both films depict the experience of the Pakistani “Other” in the US, immediately following the 9/11 attacks. This presentation will review the ideological messages of both films, and analyze how the films portray the Pakistani. Through examining these non-Western films, I will show that such cinematic works can offer a global resistance and a global solidarity against the “us versus them” ideology. I will investigate how certain non- western films viewed the 9/11 attacks while also considering the impact it generated in the lives of Pakistani Muslims living in the West.
Filza Naveed is a second year MA Candidate in Cultural Studies at Queen’s
University. She also has an undergraduate degree from Queen’s in History. Her research explores non-western films as a site of resistance to Hollywood’s hegemony. Through these films, she’s interested in examining South Asian and Pakistani identities in post 9/11 USA. She is also interested in issues of transnationalism, globalization, racism, colonialism and neo-colonialism. She spends her free time working at CFRC radio, and writing for various magazines and newspapers in Kingston