Self images in postcolonial West- and Central Africa: an explorative research into the African and European cinematographic representations in comparative perspective.
After more than 50 years development of a specific African Cinema, its filmmakers are appropriating their own film tradition which they process and integrate into their own realizations. In this context, the project investigates the self-image of West- and Central Africa as it has been presented in the post-colonial narrative films from 1963 until 2007. It compares these African representations with the European ones from the same period. The comparison also allows for a media cultural critique on Eurocentric representations starting from postcolonial filmstudies. The research project positions itself within the theoretical frame of postcolonial film studies, post-structural anthropology and deconstructionist philosophy. Postcolonial film studies and post-structural anthropology investigate how (e.g. African) identities vs. other (e.g. European) identities are brought into vision. Therefore, postcolonial film studies make use of representation analysis, bringing into account ideological, narrative, thematic and aesthetic aspects. The latter is subject to a cinematographic analysis on the basis of the classic parameters of the cinematic language. The project is defined in genre, space and time. Its delimitation is the narrative feature film of West- and Central Africa in the post-colonization period, to begin with Borom Sarret from Sembène Ousmane. In addition, it studies films which focus on the following themes: 1. the reappropriation of space, 2. the re-affirmation of the self, 3. the escape of the imprisoning image and 4. films claiming universality to return the folkloristic gaze. In a second movement, this corpus is cinematographically compared with West European films of the same period, representing this part of Africa. In the analysis of the self-image and identity discourses within African cinemas, and by its comparison with the Western representation of Africa in films, the question presents itself how the postcolonial film produces a rupture in the European system of representation. In other words, the project investigates how the decolonization of the (post)colonial imagination is realized (or not) in the specific case of African film.