Fakultät für Linguistik und Literaturwissenschaft

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ImagiNations / ImagiNaciones

ImagiNations: Documentaries and the Narration of Nation in the Americas / ImagiNaciones: El cine documental y la narración de la nación en las Américas

02 - 05/11/2005 ZiF (Zentrum für interdisziplinäre Forschung)

The conference will be held in English and Spanish. It is funded by the Center of Interdisciplinary Research and the German Research Foundation (DFG). This interdisciplinary conference will examine the role of documentary film in defining and narrating national and transnational identities in the Americas. New strategies of documentary discourse, new modes of subjectivity, and new theories on reality and its construction in film have evolved in past decades, accompanied by changes in the distribution and international reception of documentaries. The focus of the conference will be on films produced in the Americas since the 1960s. While the history of the Americas provides numerous examples of nationalism and its narcissistic tendencies, there hardly seems to be a way of defining a nation without constant reference to the wider, continental context of neighboring nations. This inter-American dimension of the construction of a nation's Other ? together with phenomena like cultural hybridization, inter-American migration, processes of economic and political integration, and questions of cultural and trans/national identity ? has stirred much critical debate in recent decades. For at least half a century documentaries have been playing an ever increasing role in this debate, designing, defining or refuting national images and icons. Our conference will therefore focus on the impact that documentaries have had on the (visual) narration of a nation. Of particular interest in this context are tendencies of the documentary genre toward performance, self-reflexivity and subjectivity. The issues we will explore include: What has been the role of documentary films in defining (American) Self and Other? How are national ideologies being rejected or reshaped in documentaries? Is the role/impact of documentaries in the U.S. the same as it is in other parts of the Americas? How have the changes in the distribution and reception of documentaries influenced their status and content? How are documentaries challenging essentialist notions of (national) identity and discourses of nationality and (how) are they taking up postcolonial theories? Are they contributing to the development of a transnational inter-American identity? By integrating discussions with documentary filmmakers into the conference program, theoretical approaches will be combined with discussions of practical issues. Carlos Mendoza (Mexico), Juan Martín Cueva (Ecuador), Jesse Lerner (U.S.A.), and Ernesto Ardito (Argentina) will each present a documentary for discussion. The screening of selected works by additional documentary filmmakers from the Americas will conclude the conference.


Dr. Sebastian Thies
Estudios de España y Latinoamérica
Fakultät für Linguistik und Literaturwissenschaft
Prof. Dr. Josef Raab
American Studies
Universität Duisburg/Essen