Introducing … Transnational Feminist Media Studies

I have to admit, I like reading theory.

I like reading the ‘classics’ and the ‘big names’ that make up a particular theoretical canon.

That being said, I think what I like even more is discovering something new (even if only to me!). After all, perhaps it is something that deserves just as much attention as the ‘classics’.


In an effort to build a theoretical framework for my thesis on migration, memory, and identity in autobiographical film, I dipped into such fields as transnational feminism, postcolonialism, and feminist geography. I was finding rich and provocative works within these fields, but I was still trying to figure out how to centre these theories on my study of film.

It was through a chance encounter with a transnational feminist journal article (Brister, 2014) that I was introduced to what I believed to be the missing piece of my puzzle: transnational feminist media studies.

Transnational feminist media studies is a relatively new area that acknowledges the vital relationship between transnationalism, feminism, and media studies. Katarzyna Marciniak, Anikó Imre, and Áine O’Healy have helped to establish this field in their collection, Transnational Feminism in Film and Media (2007).

“Our project hopes to forge a conceptual bridge between transnational feminism and transnational media, offering in the process a concerted contribution to what we describe as ‘transnational feminist media studies'” (Marciniak et al. 11).

While there has been a notable increase in discourse within film studies on such topics as “cinema of the borders,” “cinema of migration,” and “cinema of displacement,” Marciniak, Imre and O’Healy recognize that a transnational feminist focus has been left out of many of these conversations (9-10).

The rise of transnational feminism in the early 1990s by such feminist scholars as Gloria Anzaldúa, Inderpal Grewal, Caren Kaplan, Chandra Mohanty, Ella Shohat, and Gayatri Spivak, has encouraged us to interpret and understand gender through the context of borders, nationalism, imperialism, and decolonization (Marciniak et al. 10). Therefore, if we recognize the importance of placing gender at the centre of transnational practices and perspectives in general, it seems only fitting that we do so for transnational media studies more specifically.

Coming from both sides of the equation (feminism and film studies), I have to say I look forward to delving further into the literature that makes up this fresh and exciting field and seeing how it might factor into my own theoretical framework.

Sources:

Brister, Rose. “Placing Women’s Bodies in Eran Riklis’s The Syrian Bride.Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 39.4 (Summer 2014): -.

Marciniak, Katarzyna, Anikó Imre, and Áine O’Healy, eds. Transnational Feminism in Film and Media. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

© Lesley Butler (lvb717 @ mun.ca), 2016

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