The project builds on previous research I have undertaken as Principal Investigator of an international Research Network Migrant and Diasporic Cinema in Contemporary Europe. The Network was funded by the AHRC under the Diasporas, Migration & Identities Programme between 2006 and 2008. The Network brought together researchers, filmmakers, policy makers and representatives from the cultural sector. It explored how the films of migrant and diasporic filmmakers have redefined our understanding of European identity as constructed and narrated in European cinema. During the past two decades the cultural spaces occupied by migrants have shifted from the ‘subnational’ to the ‘transnational’ as representations of migrant identities and experiences have been articulated in a variety of media. The growing presence of migrant and diasporic cultures within Europe and on European screens calls for a re-evaluation of the established notion of national cinema in a global context.
The project on the diasporic family takes these earlier, more general investigations further by providing the first sustained scholarly account of a particularly prominent theme of migrant and diasporic cinema – and one that has so far received hardly any scholarly attention. Shooting the Family: Transnational Media and Intercultural Values (eds. Pisters and Staat, 2005) is to date the only study which approaches the subject from a cross-cultural perspective. However, this edited collection covers a more diverse terrain, in as much as it primarily engages with the impact of new audiovisual technologies on the construction and mediation of family life in film, television and home videos. The research project, its associated events and publications aims to complement existing scholarship on family narratives in Hollywood and European cinema while at the same time making a significant contribution to the rapidly growing body of scholarship on transnational and diasporic cinema and media cultures.
It will play an important role in redefining the field in three ways. First, unlike existing books on diasporic cinema, most of which are concerned with mapping this emerging terrain, this study will be the first in-depth thematic study on diasporic cinema. Second, the project challenges disciplinary boundaries, notably the still prevalent focus on national cinemas, by taking a comparative, transnational approach. Despite privileging film cultures at the interstice of European and World Cinema, the project seeks to overcome the still prevalent Eurocentrism, by purposely adopting a polycentric perspective (Shohat/Stam 1994) which recognises the culturally diverse traditions of non-Western film cultures which have played a crucial role in the ‘World Cinema turn’ (Berghahn/Sternberg 2010) that has taken place in European cinema as result of the growing presence of diasporic filmmakers and themes. Third, the project endeavours to enhance knowledge transfer between the academic community and filmmakers engaging with issues of diasporic identity in family narratives.