University of Minnesota Press

Public Worlds

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Small Nation, Global Cinema

The New Danish Cinema

Mette Hjort

Small Nation, Global Cinema engages the effects of globalization from the perspective of small nations. Focusing her study on the specific cultural context of the international film market, Mette Hjort argues that the New Danish Cinema presents an opportunity to understand the effects of globalization within the culture and economy of a privileged small nation. 

Hjort offers two key strategies underwriting the transformation and globalization of contemporary Danish cinema—the processes of cultural circulation and the psychological efficacy of heritage. Exploring the Dogma 95 movement initiated by Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg as well as films by Erik Clausen, Gabriel Axel, Henning Carlsen, and Ole Bornedal, among others, Hjort examines means for cinematic globalization specific to Denmark, but then evolves her investigation into a truly comparative framework encompassing references to Hong Kong, Latin America, and Hollywood filmmaking. Providing a fresh way of looking at cultural influence in the era of globalization, Hjort’s concept of “small” nation points as much to the dynamics of recognition, indifference, and participation as it does to more common measures of population size, economic strength, or linguistic reach. 

Mette Hjort is professor of intercultural studies at Aalborg University.

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Translation and Subjectivity

On Japan and cultural nationalism

Naoki Sakai

An excursion across the boundaries of language and culture, this provocative book suggests that national identity and cultural politics are, in fact, “all in the translation.” Translation, we tend to think, represents another language in all its integrity and unity. Naoki Sakai turns this thinking on its head, and shows how this unity of language really only exists in our manner of representing translation. In analyses of translational transactions and with a focus on the ethnic, cultural, and national identities of modern Japan, he explores the cultural politics inherent in translation. Through the schematic representation of translation, one language is rendered in contrast to another as if the two languages are clearly different and distinct. And yet, Sakai contends, such differences and distinctions between ethnic or national languages (or cultures) are only defined once translation has already rendered them commensurate. His essays thus address translation as a means of figuring (or configuring) difference. They do so by looking at discourses in various historical contexts: post-WWII writings on the emperor system; Japanese social sciences, intellectual history and philosophy; Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s dictée; and Watsuji Tetsuro’s anthropology. Working to undo the unquestioned premises on which any knowledge of Japan might be based, these essays call into question our methods of understanding and characterizing any modern nation-state or national culture. Throughout, Sakai demonstrates that even the character of modern subjectivity is closely related to the way we think about translation. Itself a critique of the definition and limits of academic disciplines, Translation and Subjectivity will appeal to readers who, whatever their “field,” take an interest in cultural theory, the problems of cultural nationalism, the philosophy of language, and national poetics. Naoki Sakai is associate professor of Japanese literature and history at Cornell University.

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