Imaging Africa: Gorillas, Actors And Characters

Africa is defined in the popular imagination by images of wild animals, savage dancing, witchcraft, the Noble Savage, and the Great White Hunter. These images typify the majority of Western and even some South African film fare on Africa.
Although there was much negative representation in these films I will discuss how films set in Africa provided opportunities for black American actors to redefine the way that Africans are imaged in international cinema. I conclude this essay with a discussion of the process of revitalisation of South African cinema after apartheid.

The study of post-apartheid cinema requires a revisionist history that brings us back to pre-apartheid periods, as argued by Isabel Balseiro and Ntongela Masilela (2003) in their book’s title, To Change Reels. The reel that needs changing is the one that most of us were using until Masilela’s New African Movement interventions (2000a/b;2003). This historical recovery has nothing to do with Afrocentricism, essentialism or African nationalisms. Rather, it involved the identification of neglected areas of analysis of how blacks themselves engaged, used and subverted film culture as South Africa lurched towards modernity at the turn of the century. Names already familiar to scholars in early South African history not surprisingly recur in this recovery, Solomon T. Plaatje being the most notable.

It is incorrect that ‘modernity denies history, as the contrast with the past – a constantly changing entity – remains a necessary point of reference’ (Outhwaite 2003: 404). Similarly, Masilela’s (2002b: 232) notion that ‘consciousness of precedent has become very nearly the condition and definition of major artistic works’ calls for a reflection on past intellectual movements in South Africa for a democratic modernity after apartheid. He draws on Thelma Gutsche’s (1972) assumption that film practice is one of the quintessential forms of modernity. However, there could be no such thing as a South African cinema under the modernist conditions of apartheid. This is where modernity’s constant pull towards the future comes into play (Outhwaite 2003). Simultaneous with the necessary break from white domination in film production, or a pull towards the future away from the conditions of apartheid, South Africans will need to re-acquire the ‘consciousness of precedent’, of the intellectual and cultural heritage of the New African Movement, such as is done in Come See the Bioscope (1997) which images Plaatjes’s mobile distribution initiative in the teens of the century. The Movement’s intellectual and cultural accomplishments in establishing a national culture in the context of modernity is a necessary point of reference for the African Renaissance to establish a national cinema in the context of the New South Africa (Masilela 2000b). Following Masilela (ibid.: 235), debates and practices that are of relevance within the New African Movement include:
1. the different structures of portrayal of Shaka in history by Thomas Mofolo and Mazisi Kunene across generic forms and in the context of nationalism and modernity;
2. the discussion and dialogue between Solomon T. Plaatje, H.I.E. Dhlomo, R.V. Selope Thema, H. Selby Msimang and Lewis Nkosi about the construction of the idea of the New African, concerning national identity and cultural identity;
3. the lessons facilitated by Charlotte Manye Maxeke and James Kwegyir Aggrey in making possible the connection between the New Negro modernity and New African modernity;
4. the discourse on the relationship between Marxism and modernity within the context of the Trotskyism of Ben Kies and I.B. Tabata and the Stalinism of Michael Harmel, Albert Nzula and Yusuf Mohammed Dadoo; and
5. the feminist political practices of Helen Joseph, Lilian Ngoyi, Phyllis Ntanatala and others.
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Robert Walser ~ Portrait und Erinnerungen

“Er hat in seinen Büchern mehr Dichtertum, als einige Dutzend Preisträger zusammen.” (Albin Zollinger) Biografisches über den Schweizer Schriftsteller sowie: Freunde und Schriftsteller berichten darüber, wie sie ihn erlebt haben (70er-Jahre).
Siehe auch die Playlist “Schweizer Schriftsteller und Dramatiker” hier: https://www.youtube.com/playlist

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Paolo Heywood & Maja Spanu ~ We Need To Talk About How We Talk About Fascism

The word “fascism” has recently reemerged as a key piece of political terminology. The headlines immediately after Donald Trump’s election as president of the US read like a disturbing question and answer session.

“Is Donald Trump a Fascist?” asked Newsweek. The Washington Post had the answer, declaring “Donald Trump is actually a Fascist”, but later sought to quantify things in a bit more detail with “How Fascist is Donald Trump?”. Meanwhile, Salon agreed that “Donald Trump is an actual Fascist”.

That all raises the question: what actually counts as fascism? It’s a question that has its own history, just as Nazism and fascism themselves do. And it’s similarly not without controversy.

Defining what counted as Nazism and fascism in the immediate aftermath of World War II was an urgent task faced by allied administrators and jurists in Germany and Italy. Examining these projects and their effects may help shed some light on how we talk, or perhaps on how we ought to think before talking, about fascism today.

Read morehttps://theconversation.com/we-need-to-talk-about-how-we-talk-about-fascism

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David Kenning ~ States Of Mind

States of Mind (SoM) (Beyond Appearances) is a forum for looking behind the world of appearances. Only by understanding hidden drivers, motives and desires – and seeing through the commonly accepted narratives – can we explain what is really happening in our world.

States of Mind takes a generally pessimistic view of the human condition. Modernity, social-media, celebrity-culture and dumbing-down are making shallow fools of the many and putting democracy itself in danger. At the same time, nation states are increasingly polarising and fragmenting into confrontational groups driven by the grievances of identity politics. We are living through a post-ideological age where conspiracy theories, hashtags, celebrity culture and fake news are replacing thought, conversation and analysis. The democratisation of unfiltered information is leading to the fracturing of social cohesion.

Good things often take time, thought, experience and care to create. Too often today, time-tried-and-tested institutions, humane values and policies are being attacked and destroyed by greedy, ignorant and aggressive individuals, groups and organizations. Most are bent on increasing inequality, exclusion and division. These people are at war with core democratic values and have found a way to use the processes of democracy to attack and diminish social cohesion and the democratic mindset. We have a paradoxical situation where the citizen’s vote has become the single greatest threat to democratic values. States of Mind aims to become a force to help cure democracy of this auto-immune disease. In this sense, democracy is at war with itself and warfare must be re-defined as the ability to know, understand and influence how people think and feel. Our values and analysis of the situation are valid. What we lack in today’s “reality is information” world, is influence.

States of Mind recognizes that we need to become players in this war if we are to defend what is right, what is good and protect the everyday values of fratérnité – pluralism, respect for the other, tolerance and compromise.  States of Mind intends to gather opinions and insights into ways to influence key decision-makers and put some backbone into politicians and policy-makers. In this regard we do not trust governments, elected leaders or politicians to get it right. We recognise that we ourselves must take the fight directly to those who would destroy democratic values. Think about it.

States of Mind will pick-up issues across the spectrum – and spare no individuals, groups, organizations or country practices from deeper scrutiny. But we also aim to entertain and have a good deal of fun. We may be pessimistic but we are bold and cheerful and always enjoy a good laugh.

Our content will be taken from open sources across the media and supported by bespoke think-pieces, weighty references and analysis from insightful contributors. There is a lot out there we need to expose and shame. And in the process, we take a sceptical position towards the prevailing so-called values of the so-called “superpowers” who are inflicting so much material damage and misery on the world. We don’t trust them, period. We aim to expose and share best practice in taking the fight to the darker forces dismantling the human values that make life worth living.

Perhaps it is already too late and the battle is lost, for now. Perhaps not.

Go to: https://www.statesofmind.eu/

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Philip Roth ~ The Plot Against America

About The Plot Against America
Set in Newark, New Jersey, in the early 1940s, The Plot Against America tells the story of what it was like for the Roth family and Jews across the country when the isolationist aviation hero Charles Lindbergh was elected president of the United States. Roth’s richly imagined novel begins in 1940, with the landslide election of Lindbergh, who blamed the Jews for pushing America toward war with Nazi Germany. Lindbergh’s admiration of Hitler and his openly anti-Semitic speeches cause increasing turmoil in the Roth household, and in nine-year-old Philip, as political events at home and abroad overtake their daily lives. Alvin, the orphaned nephew the family has taken in, runs away to Canada to fight the Nazis. Sandy, Philip’s older brother, ascribes his parents’ fears to paranoia and embraces Lindbergh’s Just Folks program, which sends him and other Jewish children to live in the “heartland” for a summer. Philip’s mother, Bess, wants the family to flee to Canada before it is too late to escape. But his fiercely idealistic father, Herman, refuses to abandon the country where he was born and raised as an American. Overwhelmed by the tensions around him, Philip tries to run away. “I wanted nothing to do with history,” he says. “I wanted to be a boy on the smallest scale possible. I wanted to be an orphan.” But history will not let go, and as America is whipped into a deadly frenzy by demagogues, the Roths and Jews everywhere begin to expect the worst. In The Plot Against America Philip Roth writes with a historical sweep and lyrical intimacy that have rarely been so skillfully combined. As the novel explores the convulsive collision of history and family, readers take a chilling look at devastating events that could have occurred in America–and consider the many possible histories existing beneath the one that actually happened.

About Philip Roth
In 1997 Philip Roth won the Pulitzer Prize for American Pastoral. In 1998 he received the National Medal of Arts at the White House, and in 2002 received the highest award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Gold Medal in Fiction, previously awarded to John Dos Passos, William Faulkner, and Saul Bellow, among others. He has twice won the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. In 2005 Philip Roth has become the third living American writer to have his work published in a comprehensive, definitive edition by the Library of America.

Source: http://www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/

The Plot Against America – PDF-format: https://m.reddit.com/theplotagainstamericabyphiliproth/

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Anonymous ~ The Story of Aaron Swartz ~ Full Documentary


This film follows the story of programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz. From Swartz’s help in the development of the basic internet protocol RSS to his co-founding of Reddit, his fingerprints are all over the internet. But it was Swartz’s groundbreaking work in social justice and political organizing combined with his aggressive approach to information access that ensnared him in a two-year legal nightmare. It was a battle that ended with the taking of his own life at the age of 26. Aaron’s story touched a nerve with people far beyond the online communities in which he was a celebrity. This film is a personal story about what we lose when we are tone deaf about technology and its relationship to our civil liberties.

Film by Brian Knappenberger – Luminant Media

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