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Redefining Beur Cinema: Constituting Subjectivity through Film

Laayouni, Yahya (2012) Redefining Beur Cinema: Constituting Subjectivity through Film. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation focuses on Beurs’ modes of identification in France as depicted in film. The term “Beur” is not used as an identity based on birth or citizenship but rather as a socio-cultural construct that serves as an analytical tool to dismantle the notion of Frenchness. This study, thus, investigates how cinema reflects on the experience of the Beurs through filmic narrative. The aim is to trace the changing lives of the Beurs as they have been reconstructed in movies since the early eighties. This process is both synchronic and diachronic. Synchronic as it engages in the analysis of films with respect to their historical context and diachronic as it will permit the distilling of the commonalities between these films to lead to the conception of Beur cinema as a film genre.
The theoretical premises of this study are founded on existential phenomenology; particularly Paul Ricœur’s concept narrative identity and Merleau-Ponty’s notion of corporeality. As decolonized postcolonial subjects, the Beurs’ presence in France has become more visible than other groups, and their impact on French society is undeniable. Their corporeality is not conceptually configured but physically manifested as their subjectivities are visually constructed. The corpus of films in this study illustrates how Beur narrative identities are “decolonizing” the French nation.
The first chapter traces back the emergence of the term “Beur” and discusses its linguistic derivation and metaphoric dimension. A discussion of Beur cinema as a genre constitutes the second chapter. The third chapter engages in an analysis of Beur comedy and the experiences of Beur characters as reflected through the narrative and the film techniques. The fourth and final chapter concentrates on gender in Beur films. It compares the image of the female Beur and that of the Beur gay respectively to that of the Arab nude and the “jeune arabe” of colonial postcards, and shows how these old colonial stereotypes still drive French perceptions today.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Laayouni, Yahyayal29@pitt.eduYAL29
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee CoChairMecchia, Giuseppina
Committee CoChairHalle, Randalle
Committee MemberReeser, Todd
Committee MemberBamyeh, Mohammed
Committee MemberDoshi, Neil
Date: 28 June 2012
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 10 April 2012
Approval Date: 28 June 2012
Submission Date: 15 March 2012
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 214
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > French
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Beur, subjectivity, cinema,
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2012 20:11
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2017 05:15


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