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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Apparatuses, Globalities, Assemblages: Third Cinema, Now
by Benfield, Dalida Maria, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2011, 123; 3498767
Abstract (Summary)

Colonial wounds endure but are refigured in 21st century cinematic landscapes. These are spaces of memory and mourning, as well as sites of creativity and transformation. New assemblages of power emerge along with equally complex amalgams of resistance, producing multiple and competing cinematic regimes. Third Cinema, the cinematic movement that emerged alongside “Third World” struggles for decolonization in the late 1960s, laid claim to a global space of cinematic production outside existing geo-political relations of power, hierarchies of communication flows, and towards the liberation of the “Third World” and its cinemas. But while Third Cinema has ample genealogies and global sites of production, its critical tools have not been sufficiently engaged in an analysis of contemporary cinematic production, including digital video, interactive video installations, Internet art, and film, in the contemporary context of globalization, the transnationalization of capital with information technology at its core. Third Cinema offers the opportunity for understanding and developing generative intersections between the cinematic decolonization movements of the “Third World” and the present context of cinematic praxis of the “Global South.”

This dissertation engages the cinematic texts of Cao Fei, the Raqs Media Collective, Michelle Dizon, Cecilia Cornejo, and Fanta Régina Nacro in a conversation with Third Cinema. The texts selected for study include video, video installation, Internet art, and film. This selection highlights the diversity of contemporary cinematic practices and expands the definition of the cinematic. The process and conditions of production are analyzed, and key examples of each artists' cinematic texts are given a close reading. This conversation is anchored by three critical terms: apparatus, globality, and assemblage. Each of these draws upon genealogies that both productively resonate with historical notions of Third Cinema while also transposing it across theoretical scales. The notion of the cinematic apparatus has been key to previous theorizations of relations of power and knowledge production in cinema. It is used here as a technic for mapping the re-arrangements of power and the attendant epistemic interventions evidenced in the cinematic praxis of these artists. The inquiry is centered on the question of how each artist produces a novel assemblage of the cinematic apparatus, understood as a relationship of author, cinematic text, and spectator, and how, in turn, this produces forms of globality, epistemes that are contentious responses to particular geo-political spaces of knowledge production. The inquiry proceeds through a series of close engagements with the artists' cinematic texts, discussing the transformation of the artist/author from individual to multiple, the redefinition of the “cinema” as a series of assemblages of screen and non-screen based practices, the constitution of the spectator as a site of spectral ephemerality, and the relationship of these transformations to the epistemic and geo-political sites of cinematic praxis. The study combines this textual analysis of the artists' work with a socio-historical analysis of information communication technologies on global and local scales. An interdisciplinary set of theoretical frameworks are mobilized, including post- and decolonial theory, philosophy, media studies, transnational feminism, and Third Cinema.

In the cinematic praxis of these artists, I find productive resonances and dissonances with the critical tools of Third Cinema. Along the variegated routes of “information society,” these artists create new forms of cinematic praxis and knowledge production. They significantly destabilize global constructions of race and gender, which they encounter in the contexts of factory workers in China, discourses of information technology and development in India, and global warfare as experienced in the U.S., France, Chile, and Burkina Faso. When thought together as a field, these artists constitute related sites of aesthetic, political, and economic arrangements of cinematic forms. These cinemas reconstruct relations of power and refigure global discourses that produce temporary workers, the “Global South,” and permanent war. The tracing of the remnants, refusals and re-compositions of the cinematic apparatus, and, in tandem, Third Cinema, reveals the consequences of colonial conditions for global cinemascapes, and creates a platform for present and future emancipatory cinematic praxis.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Trinh, Minh-ha T.
Commitee: Gokturk, Deniz, Maldonado-Torres, Nelson, Perez, Laura E.
School: University of California, Berkeley
Department: Ethnic Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 73/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Womens studies, Multimedia Communications, Ethnic studies, Film studies
Keywords: Burkina Faso, Cao, Fei, China, Contemporary art, Cornejo, Cecilia, Dizon, Michelle, Gender, Globalization, India, Information and communication technologies, Nacro, Fanta Regina, Race, Third Cinema
Publication Number: 3498767
ISBN: 978-1-267-22578-8
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