extended deadline: 31 August 2021
call for proposals for a special issue Transnational Screens
“From Yesterday’s Margins to Today’s: Towards Decolonizing Curricula, Pedagogy, and Research in Transnational Screen Media”
edited by Sheetal Majithia and Dale Hudson
With transnational reverberations of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement over the police murder of George Floyd in 2020, students have rightfully asked (again) for faculty to decolonize their curricula, pedagogy, and research. Their calls echo and join ones by other students-led protests, notably the Rhodes Must Fall movement in South Africa in 2015, reverberating back into Britain five years later. They want to direct our attention as educators and scholars to ways that epistemological violence translates into physical violence when particular perspectives are marginalized, belittled, omitted, or delegitimized in our courses, classrooms, and publications.
To unsettle these frameworks and participate in the ongoing work of decolonizing curricula, pedagogy, and research, previously marginalized or excluded perspectives need to be amplified, so as to change the very constitution of frameworks that define screen studies. The transnational turn in screen studies has focused extensively on understanding (a) political economies of film financing, production, distribution, exhibition, and reception and (b) perspectives of diasporic, exilic, and other transnational subjectivities. More work, however, remains to be done on (c) curricula and pedagogy as they affect research both by students and faculty.
The editors of a proposed special edition of Transnational Screens invite proposals for new articles on ways to work towards decolonizing curricula, pedagogy, and research in screen media. In particular, this proposed issue aims to investigate the transnational dimension of teaching against conventional frameworks, their scope and methods, employed in introductory courses that were largely developed decades ago in western universities; that is to say, we are looking for alternative approaches to introducing the field that acknowledge the vast changes in the world (e.g., inauguration of film/media studies in universities around the world) and also the proliferation of screen media over the past three decades.
Most media today, however, is nonwestern, as it was for past generations, though that media was often excluded or overlooked by the field. Most media today is also nonprofessional in the sense that the means of production are no longer monopolized by commercial studios, state agencies, and élite independent filmmakers. Introductory courses often exclude more than they address. They also disproportionately emphasize European and Hollywood films. Recent introductory books, such as Roy Stafford’s The Global Film Book (BFI, 2014) and Meta Mazaj and Shekhar Deshpande’s World Cinema: A Critical Introduction (Routledge, 2018), move beyond traditional structures that contained nonwestern filmmaking as a supplement (often in added chapters in later editions) to an unmarked focus on western filmmaking as filmmaking-in-general rather than as an occasion to reconceptualize the field. We feel that work towards decolonizing how we introduced the field has only begun.
To counter the lingering eurocentrism that introduces screen studies to students, the proposed issue seeks to amplify perspectives from “yesterday’s margins” (e.g., anyplace outside the European subcontinent, its settler colonies, and its élite classes in zones of colonization) that might help decolonize thinking in “today’s margins” (e.g., the European subcontinent, its settler colonies, and its élite classes in zones of colonization). We are interested in perspectives from “yesterday’s margins,” which includes major film industries in China, India, Nigeria, and South Korea (despite the fact that such places were never marginal from non-eurocentric perspectives), alongside ones from minor filmmaking locations, including indigenous peoples and subnational groups, to help update frameworks in “today’s margins,” particularly the United States.
Rather than a unified decolonial approach, we look towards multiple decolonial approaches, each carving out a different space for new and renewed debates from a particular perspective. To widen the field, we are prioritizing historically marginalized perspectives. We ask contributors to consider how they would teach an introductory course in contexts historically defined or self-defined as indigenous, nonwestern, and Global South. We are particularly interested in perspectives from faculty either (a) teaching in a language other than English or (b) teaching in English in places where English is one of the official languages and/or functions as a university language.
We are interested in how faculty acknowledge the frequent market domination of foreign media—notably commercial narrative films from Bollywood, Hallyuwood, Hollywood, Kollywood, Mollywood, Nollywood, and other transnational industries—while also recognizing local media, whether commercial, independent, or nonprofessional (“amateur”). What “supplements” are needed to existing introductory textbooks? What films from the western canons of western and select nonwestern realist films, if any, are necessary to include? What kinds of “small” or short-form media are useful to convey a sense of important debates, histories, issues, and ultimately perspectives that are not present, both in dominant media available in theaters and cinéclubs, on television and VOD? What pedagogies can acknowledge different kinds of learning and knowledge production?
We are looking for articles that demonstrate how we might expand the scope and methods of introducing the field from what is included in conventional introductory courses to also consider forms that are often ignored or marginalized, such as activist media, animation, archival media (colonial films, education films, etc.), community media, documentary (short- and long-form, television, theatrical, interactive, state, private, etc.), experimental media, and short films.
We are also interested in assignments that engage both critical thinking and critical making. With the availability of relatively inexpensive hardware (camera, phone cameras, etc.) and open-source (editing, animation, special effects, etc.) software, what assignments have faculty devised to respond to dominant media? What assignments can work against arbitrary divisions between film/media studies and film/media production that were developed decades ago? With the availability of official and unofficial archives (from BFI’s Colonial Film to YouTube), what curatorial assignments have faculty devised to respond to the canons in textbooks? What other strategies have faculty devised to integrate student perspectives into curriculum?
Possible reorienting questions include:
· How does an introductory course in film or screen studies look when it is conceived from the perspective of yesterday’s margins?
· How can these perspectives help decolonize today’s margins?
· How can we reimagine the field to prioritize multiple perspectives in relation to one another?
· What types of assignments can be integrated into such courses that encourage different kinds of learning? How can they combine critical thinking into critical making?
· What is the place of the untranslatable and opaque on our syllabi? How do we convey that our courses cannot render screen media into transparent texts that we can decode with certainty? How do we convey that there are forms of knowledge that are not meant to be shared—and that epistemological sovereignty must be respected?
· What are the localized forms of oppression that come into focus when we move beyond the internationalism of “world cinema”? How do we include them without re-inscribing foreign prejudices?
· How do we challenge the power of international coproduction and transnational financing, as well as film festivals, in shaping our understanding of screen media according to national or transnational frameworks?
· What changes when we integrate media available on free-to-use VOD like YouTube alongside media available only through pay-for-use platforms?
· How can decolonizing perspectives forward abolitionist objectives concerning human trafficking, modern slavery, prison industries, refugee “crises”?
· What role does comparison play that is different in a transnational context as opposed to national, international, and world cinemas? Is it possible to find objects of study beyond comparison?
Proposals should be between 400 and 500 words and accompanied by a short 100-word bio and a CV.
Please submit to [log in to unmask] and [log in to unmask] by 31 August 2021. Articles will be 7000–8000 words.
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