“Coming to Terms, Coming to Love”: Negotiating Representation and Identity

Emmanuelle Andrews & Pedro Daher

“Coming to Love”: A Short Film

Between films about slavery and films about thugs, the artistic representation of black people in cinema is limited, and we are often offered depictions of baby mammas, drug dealers, sex workers, ‘hoes’, maids, pimps and absent fathers. Then came Moonlight. A film about Chiron’s journey of self-discovery, Moonlight demonstrated the multi-faceted experiences of a being (who happens to be black and queer) as he grapples with the everyday negotiations of being a child, teenager and adult. Chiron is affected by the racially-charged atmosphere of the US, but Barry Jenkins portrays Chiron as an agent, however flawed. For perhaps the first time in Hollywood, we are presented with a black human. This is a rarity. Using the lyrical merging of spoken word and literature, including an extract from Toni Morrison’s Beloved, the screening of the 9.5-minute film Coming to Love expresses black self-love through personal reflexivity and the creation of moving paintings. In the film, we aim to give black women the ability to be banal, exploring how black women come to love themselves in a world that tells them they’re not good enough. We consider how they work towards self-love, -preservation and -determination. How they negotiate their subjectivity and their womanhood; their being, identity and pride.

Pedro Daher and Emmanuelle Andrews are aspiring researchers at the Institute for Gender,  Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia. Pedro’s work seeks to rethink and redeploy difference, releasing it from 19th- and 20th-century projects of racial and cultural difference and from 20th-century re-workings of the concept, such as the famous Deleuzian solution of difference-in- itself. Emmanuelle Andrews is researching the period between the so-called London ‘Riots’ in 2011, and the subsequent threat to cancel Notting Hill Carnival, urging one to read the latter event within a global agenda of blackness’ othering. She is also a filmmaker, dancer, and lover of words. Pedro and Emmanuelle recently attempting to combine all three in their award-winning short film Coming to Love (2017).

Priyanka Patel

“The East-West Dichotomy”: Contemporary and Historical Representations of Indian Bodies

From the cheap convenience store clerk with a comical accent in a popular television show to the exotic woman with Bollywood dance moves in the background of a music video, representations of Indian bodies in Western visual media draw a stark binary between the East and the West. In his canonical work, Edward Said describes Orientalism as a process through which a distinction between the East and West becomes naturalized as objective reality. Disparaging representations of Eastern bodies not only become systematic knowledge about the East, but they also provide a rationalization for colonialism based on the principle that the East is inferior to the West and therefore in need of Western intervention. Contemporary Western depictions of Indian people in the modern period emerge from this historical tradition of Orientalism in which Indian bodies are viewed as culturally deviant, socially inferior, and sexually aberrant in comparison to European bodies. In this presentation, I employ the concept of Orientalism in order to trace visual representations of Indian bodies in the modern day to their origins in the justification of European colonialism. Observation of contemporary and historical representations of Indian bodies demonstrate that the East-West dichotomy continues to thrive today.

Priyanka Patel is a doctoral student in the Department of Criminology at the University of Ottawa. She holds a Master’s degree in Criminology and Sociolegal Studies from the University of Toronto and an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree from Queen’s University. Her current research explores marginalized women’s interactions with law enforcement and criminal justice system personnel in the context of intimate partner violence. Her main areas of interest include: violence against women, gender and crime, race and ethnicity, intersectionality theory, and racialized systems of law and policing.

Adi Sheffi

“A New Paradigm”: Post-Traumatic Motherhood and Current Israeli Documentary Cinema

This paper proposes a new paradigm for analysis of Israeli documentary films made during the second Intifada – post-traumatic motherhood. Focusing on the burning issues of the relationships between motherhood and militarism, colonialism, and multiculturalism, the analysis of various maternal representations will enable a discussion of the ways in which Israeli documentary cinema describes the repercussions of the Occupation and the Intifada on both Israeli and Palestinian societies.

Motherhood, presented in these films in various ways against the backdrop of the historical events that shaped the identity of the State of Israel, links both directly and implicitly between the ongoing violent reality and what I regard as the maternal crisis that characterizes the post-traumatic subject position of both Israeli and Palestinian motherhood.

Cinema research as well as the prevalent political and social discourses on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict reflect phallocentric paternalism that focuses on the ways the violence of both the Occupation and terror influence the public sphere. In contrast, the films discussed reveal the effects of violence on the home front. Thus, they allow a discussion that takes place outside the hegemonic discourse, structuring an ethical attitude toward the other, both on personal and national levels.

Adi Sheffi is a PhD candidate in the Department of Communications & Journalism at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her dissertation is titled “Representations of Motherhood in Contemporary Israeli Cinema”. She holds an MA in Communication, Culture and Cinema, and a Bachelors in Communication and Journalism from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.