Chapter 8: National formations

“The transformative effect of globalization has radically redefined the status of the nation as a relevant economic, political, and cultural unit instead giving currency to the terms ‘world,’ ‘global,’ and ‘transnational’ in descriptions of the current geopolitical map. Yet, we still divide the world by nations, and the nation retains its agency through institutions that facilitate its participation in the global sphere. In film studies too, studies of individual national cinemas are proliferating and expanding, policy is still informed by local film production, and national categories and labels continue to play a role in the production, exhibition, marketing, and understanding of films. What we understand under ‘national’ has changed profoundly, but it has anything but disappeared, and the understanding of national elements and their role is as important as ever” (Deshpande and Mazaj 313).

Until the 1980s, the dominant model of studying cinema remained the ‘national cinema’ model, where various genres and auteurs are grouped together under the umbrella of national cinema. Tied to the aforementioned ‘ national phase’ in cinema, the idea of national cinema tends to focus on film texts produced within a particular territory, and often sees these texts as expressions of national spirit and projections of national identity… However, after the 1980s, as the interconnected and transnational patterns of national cinemas (that have always existed) began to assert themselves more prominently, the publication of a vast body of work emerged that challenged positivist, essentialist ideas of nationhood and national identity. Emerging from different but overlapping perspectives of anti-essentialist and postcolonialist criticism these works have ‘shattered the theoretically naive and politically suspect beliefs in unified, ahistorical nations and national identities’ (Eleftheriotis, 2002: 26). Their influences on the way film studies conceived of national cinema was extensive” (314).

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