From Far-flung Families to Welcoming Strangers
Far-flung families in Film will have an afterlife, even though the AHRC Fellowship ‘The Diasporic Family in Cinema’ has ended. For the academic year 2011-12, I was awarded a HARC (same letters, different sequence, stands for Humanities and Arts Research Centre) Fellowship at Royal Holloway under this year’s programme theme ‘Welcoming Strangers’.
I am approaching the theme from the critical vantage point of transnationalism, migration and diaspora studies since these provide useful heuristic tools not only for a socio-political analysis of forms of hospitality extended to ‘strangers’ (e.g. through asylum, immigration and integration policies), but also for the analysis of cultural production and forms of cultural hybridity that occur in ‘the diaspora space’. In the era of accelerated transnational mobility and mass migration, traditional notions of citizenship and belonging and our understanding of what constitutes ‘the native and the stranger’ have become increasingly problematic. The growing importance of multi-locality, transnational communities, cosmopolitanism and forms of flexible citizenship call binarisms which posit ‘the stranger’ as ‘the Other’ of the indigenous community, as ‘the guest’ who is welcomed by the hegemonic host society, into question.
One of the HARC Events which I have planned continues my particular interest in the cinematic representation of diasporic families. In collaboration with the Goethe Institute and the Ciné Lumière in London, I am organising is a public screening of Almanya – Welcome to Germany (dir. Yasemin Samdereli, Germany 2010), a multi-award-winning Turkish German feature film. The film takes the arrival of the one-millionth ‘guest worker’ in Germany on 10 September 1964 as its historical backdrop and narrative starting point but challenges familiar clichés of victimised Turks, be they exploited guest workers (as labour migrants were called) or oppressed Turkish wives or daughters. This heart-warming, nostalgia-tinged comedy about Hüseyin Ylimaz (fictional guest worker number one-million-and-one) and his sprawling, multi-generational family imagines labour migration as a magical tale of German hospitality and successful Turkish integration.
See Events for further details.
Edited on 26 Oct 2011 around 4pm