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| 207 Hope, Forced Migration, and Desire of Elsewhere in Eritrean Diaspora Films Aurora Massa and Osvaldo Costantini S ince the beginning of the postcolonial period, the political instability characterizing Eritrea has fueled the growth of a diasporic population, which by the end of the twentieth century had reached around one million people.Nowadays,Eritreaisstillaprominentcountryof refugeeorigin,due to the authoritarian regime but also due to the younger generation’s desire for a “better life” that is molded upon ambition, values, and aspirations shaped within global and local horizons of expectations (Graw and Schielke 2013). This chapter reflects on these issues by focusing closely on the analysis of the production and the reception of two Eritrean fijilms, produced in two diffferent diasporic contexts. The fijirst one was shot in Ethiopia with the support of the government of Addis Ababa and with the aim of showing the conditions faced by young people in Eritrea and of revealing the “hidden truth” behind the propaganda of the regime. The second one, produced in the United States and partially shot in Eritrea, sketches the gap between migratory expectations and realities, and the emergence of new gender patterns. Focusing on what went on behind the scenes of the production of the fijirst fijilm and on the plot and the reception of the second one, our purpose is to analyze the circular relationship between everyday life and fijilms in what concerns migration processes and the imagination of life in the 208 | Aurora Massa and Osvaldo Costantini diaspora.The comparative analysis allows us to explore migratory imaginaries and their circulation, and to investigate how the culture of migration influences (and is influenced by) diasporic fijilm productions. We interpret these movies also as a form of youth dissent, which is molded by cultural codes and historical values and is encapsulated in networks of meaning and power that are both local and global. Ourempiricalanalysisisbasedontwodistinctethnographicfijieldworksfocused on daily life, past experiences, and desired futures of Eritrean and Ethiopian migrants. Our enquiries have been carried out through in-depth interviews, informal conversations, and participant observations and have included the study of cultural artifacts, such as songs and movies, as well as the Internet and social media, which we considered not only as means of communication but as ordinary space for social interactions.1 The chapter begins with an introduction to the recent history of Eritrea, to the current political situation, to the diasporic confijiguration of its population, and to the recent history of fijilm production in the country in order to address the background both to the fijilms’ production and receptions and to our analyses. This continues in the second section with the reconstruction of the role played by the media and the Internet in the Eritrean diaspora. The third section discusses the fijirst movie and its backstage analysis and sheds light on attempts made by young refugees to construct new ways of accessing the public sphere by intertwining global and local models. The fourth section focuses on the second movie, which describes the migratory illusions and disillusions of a young Eritrean woman who reaches the United States through an arranged marriage, and is followed by some conclusive remarks. Historical Background Eritrea did not exist as a territorial unity before Italian colonization that started in the late 1800s. After the collapse of the Italian colonial system in 1942, the United Nations fijinally decided, in 1950, on the federation of Eritrea under Ethiopian rule, ignoring calls from within Eritrea for the territory’s sovereignty and inadvertently sowing the seeds of discontent. Since then a long nationalistic struggle for independence has taken place, with diffferent armed groups on the fijield, from which the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) became the main one. The EPLF gained independence for Eritrea in 1991 by entering into Asmara and formalized it Eritrean Diaspora Films | 209 by referendum in 1993. Eritrea has been ruled by the People’s Front for Democracy andJustice(PFDJ),arenamedversionof EPLF,andsinceindependencethedreams of glory and prosperity have been progressively shattered by various events, the most important of which was the sudden war with Ethiopia that broke out in 1998 (Negash and Tronvoll 2000). AfterthewarwithEthiopia(endingin2000),thegovernmenthasremainedina constant state of fear of further aggression by Ethiopia and, consequently, retains a compulsory and unlimited military service (Müller 2011).This conscription recruits every citizen between the age of eighteen and forty (fijifty for men) indefijinitely (Hepner and O’Kane 2011; Riggan 2011; see...


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