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History, Genre, Politics: The Cinema of Yamina Benguigui

Johnson-Evans, Teresa (2009) History, Genre, Politics: The Cinema of Yamina Benguigui. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation illustrates the ways cinema intervenes into questions of history, politics, immigration, and national identity and community through the films of contemporary French filmmaker Yamina Benguigui (1957-). This study traces these interventions from her earliest films in the mid-1990s to her most recent productions in 2008. France, and the way it is represented to and by its people, has been undergoing significant transformations in recent decades as a result of an increasingly multicultural population and external pressures due to globalization and European unification. Benguigui's corpus reflects these tranformations and the evolution of these debates while also contributing to them, thereby consolidating her status as a cinéaste engagée. A range of theoretical texts inform the analyses of Benguigui's films. Colonial theory, as articulated by Frantz Fanon and Albert Memmi, illustrate to what extent the colonial dynamic continues to structure contemporary French society decades after decolonization. Jacques Rancière's La mésentente (1995), a rethinking of the concepts of democracy and politics, provides the framework for an examination of Benguigui's cinema as political practice. Benguigui's films intend to open an imaginary space for immigrants and their descendants in French national narratives; Benedict Anderson's theory of "imagined communities" is therefore particularly relevant to her cinematic project. This dissertation is organized thematically, beginning with an analysis of the ways Benguigui's films address colonial history and its consequences in the latter half of the twentieth century. The second chapter is an examination of her preferred genres—the documentary and tragicomedy—and how they serve her cinematic and political project. Her films are situated within the documentary tradition as well as within French and Italian comedic conventions. The relationship between politics and cinema is studied in chapter three. Benguigui's most recent films, treating social unrest and inequalities in French society, have assumed an overt political cast, but a political project can be traced throughout her cinematic corpus. Yamina Benguigui advocates for a more inclusive and egalitarian society; this study illustrates the role art can and must play in these struggles.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee CoChairMecchia, Giuseppinamecchia@pitt.eduMECCHIA
Committee CoChairWatts, Philip
Committee MemberInsana, Linainsana@pitt.eduINSANA
Committee MemberHatcher, Robertahatcher@pitt.eduHATCHER
Committee Membervon Dirke, Sabine
Date: 30 September 2009
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 10 July 2009
Approval Date: 30 September 2009
Submission Date: 14 August 2009
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
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: Algeria; documentary; film; France; immigration
Other ID:, etd-08142009-114559
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:59
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:49


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