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Cinema in an Age of Terror

North Africa, Victimization, and Colonial History

Michael F. O'Riley

Publication Year: 2010

Cinema in an Age of Terror looks at how cinematic representations of colonial-era victimization inform our understanding of the contemporary age of terror. By examining works representing colonial history and the dynamics of spectatorship emerging from them, Michael F. O’Riley reveals how the centrality of victimization in certain cinematic representations of colonial history can help us understand how the desire to occupy the victim’s position is a dangerous and blinding drive that frequently plays into the vision of terrorism. Films such as The Battle of Algiers, Days of Glory, Caché, and recent works by Maghrebien filmmakers all exemplify, in different ways, how this focus on victimization can become a problematic perspective—one in fact seeking to occupy ideological territory. Their return of colonial history to our contemporary context, although frequently problematic, enables us to see how victimization is very much about territory—cultural, spatial, and ideological—and how resistance to new forms of imperialist warfare and terror today must be located outside these haunting images from colonial history. Although such images of victimization ultimately only return as spectacular acts that draw our attention away from the cyclical contest over territory that they embody, those images nonetheless have the last word. Michael F. O’Riley is an associate professor of French and Italian at Colorado College. He is the author of Francophone Culture and the Postcolonial Fascination with Ethnic Crimes and Colonial Aura and Postcolonial Haunting and Victimization: Assia Djebar’s New Novels.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press


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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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p. v

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p. vii

This project began at Ohio State University. I wish to thank my colleague Judith Mayne for her excellent advice and for reading part of the manuscript. Danielle Marx-Scouras, Dana Renga, Gene support for this project. I would like to thank Jean-Luc DeSalvo and Dominique van Hooff for their kind invitation to present part ...

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pp. 1-21

Crumpling trade towers, suicide bombers, burning embassies, and tortured bodies have become commonplace images of what one might term the age of terror. Such images not only highlight the victimization of the perpetrated but also of the author of such acts, the terrorist. These spectacles of victimization raise questions as to...

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1. Resuscitating The Battle of Algiers: The Politics of Race in the War on Iraq

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pp. 22-48

In late summer of 2003, when resistance to the American occupation in Iraq acquired the profile of a war of guerilla insurgency through increased bombings and acts of sabotage, the office of Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict at the Pentagon designed and distributed e-mail flyers for those involved...

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2. Mapping National Identity and Unrealized Union: Rachid Boucha reb’s Indigènes

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pp. 49-78

In Le Syndrome de Vichy historian Henry Rousso identifies the return of memories that had been smothered under a reassuring myth of French national resistance during World War II as a period of time best captured by the image of “le miroir brisé” (broken mirror) (120). A number of developments after 1968...

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3. Hidden Maps of Victimization: The Haunting Key to Colonial Victimization in Cach

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pp. 79-100

In both France and Algeria a pervasive fascination with colonial history suggests a haunting at the very core of postcolonial interpretations of the national experience of colonialism.1 With the influx of thousands of Maghrebian and, in particular, Algerian immigrants in France and the specters of French colonialism lingering in Algeria...

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4. Creating an Old Maghreb: Beur Cinema and East-West Polarities

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pp. 101-127

Since the appearance of a cinema produced by children of North African immigrants in France in the early 1980s, debates about integration and assimilation of France’s minority populations have alternately receded only to reappear during periods of political strength shown by France’s right-wing political...

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5. Colonial Cinema and the Aesthetics of Postcolonial Victimization: Pépé le Moko and Assia Djebar’s La Disparition de la langue française

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pp. 128-152

In this chapter I would like to adopt a perspective that will supplement the focus on the visual nature of postcolonial victimization discussed in the preceding chapters. I have attempted to show that in postcolonial francophone cinema on North Africa, the visualization of territory...

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pp. 153-159

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s internationally acclaimed film Babel (2006), starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, begins in the Moroccan desert with a troubled young American couple, Richard and Susan, traveling on a tourist bus. At this point, despite the different settings and epochs, the scene is uncannily reminiscent...


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pp. 161-180

Works Cited

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pp. 181-189


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pp. 191-198

E-ISBN-13: 9780803230194
E-ISBN-10: 0803230192
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803228092
Print-ISBN-10: 0803228090

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 707932562
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Cinema in an Age of Terror

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Motion pictures -- France -- History -- 20th century.
  • Postcolonialism in motion pictures
  • East and West in motion pictures.
  • Motion pictures -- Political aspects.
  • France -- In motion pictures.
  • Imperialism in motion pictures.
  • Algeria -- History -- Revolution, 1954-1962 -- Motion pictures and the revolution.
  • Africa, North -- In motion pictures.
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