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Women Filmmakers of the African & Asian Diaspora

Decolonizing the Gaze, Locating Subjectivity

Gwendolyn Audrey Foster

Publication Year: 1997

Black women filmmakers not only deserve an audience, Gwendolyn Audrey Foster asserts, but it is also imperative that their voices be heard as they struggle against Hollywood’s constructions of spectatorship, ownership, and the creative and distribution aspects of filmmaking.

Foster provides a voice for Black and Asian women in the first detailed examination of the works of six contemporary Black and Asian women filmmakers. She also includes a detailed introduction and a chapter entitled "Other Voices," documenting the work of other Black and Asian filmmakers.

Foster analyzes the key films of Zeinabu irene Davis, "one of a growing number of independent Black women filmmakers who are actively constructing [in the words of bell hooks] ‘an oppositional gaze’"; British filmmaker Ngozi Onwurah and Julie Dash, two filmmakers working with time and space; Pratibha Parmar, a Kenyan/Indian-born British Black filmmaker concerned with issues of representation, identity; cultural displacement, lesbianism, and racial identity; Trinh T. Minh-ha, a Vietnamese-born artist who revolutionized documentary filmmaking by displacing the "voyeuristic gaze of the ethnographic documentary filmmaker"; and Mira Nair, a Black Indian woman who concentrates on interracial identity.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press

Title Page

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pp. 2-4

Copyright Page

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pp. 5-7


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pp. vii-9


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-15

IN CREATING THE text of Women Filmmakers of the African and Asian Diaspora: Decolonizing the Gaze, Locating Subjectivity, I am deeply indebted to the work of many writers and filmmakers, including Bill Nichols, N. Frank Ukadike, Mbye Cham, Claire Andrade Watkins, Teshome Gabriel, Kobena Mercer, David Nicholson, Clyde Taylor, Mark Reid, Homi K. Bhabha, bell hooks, ...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-9

DECOLONIZATION OF THE "gaze;' and the re/construction of sites of filmic diasporic subjectivity is particularly difficult because of the persistence of white hegemonic Hollywood constructions of spectatorship, ownership, and the creative and distribution aspects of filmmaking. Many critics have demonstrated how films of the African diaspora and the Asian diaspora are effectively ...

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2. Zeinabu Irene Davis: "Constructing an oppositional gaze"

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pp. 10-23

TONI CADE BAMBARA comments that the cultural work of Black independent cinema includes the radical "fashioning of a deliberate diasporic aesthetic" (128). Bambara reads the work of African-American filmmaker Zeinabu irene Davis through the prism of a diasporic aesthetic that is part of a continuum of the works of independent Black filmmakers such as Julie Dash. An aesthetic ...

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3. Ngozi Onwurah: "A different concept and agenda"

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pp. 24-42

BLACK DlASPORIC CORPOREALITY-the body-is the mise-en-scene of Black British filmmaker Ngozi Onwurah. Onwurah consistently navigates and challenges the limits of narrative and ethnographic cinema by insisting that the body is the central landscape of an anti-imperialist cinematic discourse. Onwurah's films address the Western ethnographic texts that objectify...

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4. Julie Dash: "I think we need to do more than try to document history"

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pp. 43-72

How HAS HOLLYWOOD filmmaking constructed blackness? Perhaps an even better question is: How has Hollywood filmmaking constructed American whiteness? How do the films of Julie Dash, an African-American woman who is widely regarded as the most successful Black woman filmmaker "working within the system;' question Hollywood constructions of American...

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5. Pratibha Parmar: "An assault on racism, sexism, and homophobia"

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pp. 73-94

As A FILMMAKER, writer, and activist, Pratibha Parmar operates within what Stuart Hall has termed "an oppositional code:" Her films embody a zone of signification where "events which are normally signified and decoded in a negotiated way begin to be given an oppositional reading" (Hall 103). Parmar, a lesbian Kenyan-born Indian Black British activist, describes herself within an ...

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6. Trinh T. Minh-ha: "An empowering notion of difference"

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pp. 95-110

BORN IN VIETNAM in 1953, Trinh T. Minh-ha came to the United States, studied music and comparative literature at the University of Illinois, and she studied ethnomusicology in France. Her later experience as a researcher in Senegal led directly to her first film work, Reassemblage (1982), a poetic transgressive film that transcends and revolutionizes cinema. Trinh T. Minh-ha's...

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7. Mira Nair: "To be mixed is the new world order"

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pp. 111-127

BORN IN BHUBANESWAR, India, in 1957, and educated at Harvard University, Mira Nair is a cineaste of uncompromising feminist postcolonial subjectivity in-the-making. Nair's work explores the nomadic space of postmodern feminism, displacing the essentialism of the idea of "First" and "Third" Worlds. Recognizing that, as an Asian woman, she has been subject...

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8. Other Voices

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pp. 128-154

WOMEN FILMMAKERS OF the African and Asian diaspora seek spaces of agency and creative energy where "cultural agency opens up-and holds together-the performative and pedagogic" (Bhabha 1994, 155), thus "revealing and linking Black spaces that have been separated and suppressed by...

Works Cited

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pp. 157-168

Film and Video Rentals

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pp. 169-185


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pp. 171-177

Author Bio

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pp. 178-193

Back Cover

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p. 194-194

E-ISBN-13: 9780809380947
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809321209

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 1997