Session Summary


Maria Bose, Clemson University

“Cinema’s Hegemony: Imperial and cinematic futures at the start of the Asian century”

This paper argues that cinema in the twenty-first century maintains cultural primacy in part because it remains a privileged site for the articulation of state power—and that cinema retains this privilege in part because of the self-consciousness and sophistication with which twenty-first century nationalist genres renew cinema’s material and ideological compacts with the hegemonic state. That renewal unfolds contrary to critical truism: rather than extend cinema’s didactic function as an “ideological state apparatus” charged with projecting the nation-state’s strengths and ideals, genres of twenty-first century nationalist film—from patriotic melodrama to wartime epic to superhero action-thriller—offer remarkably complex historical diagnoses of states’ developmental weaknesses and ideological incoherencies at a transitional moment of hegemonic rebalancing, as declining Western powers (the U.S., the U.K.) face the unravelling of neoliberal-imperialist agendas while rising state actors in Asia (China, India) strive for positions of greater centrality within the global political economy.

Tosin Gbogi, Marquette University

“Race and Migrant Bodies in Contemporary African Poetry”

This paper argues that the predominant conceptions of the African/Black body that shaped the racist and sexual economies of slavery and colonialism are not only still being reproduced in a wide array of ways—ranging from popular culture to the micro-interactions of everyday life—but in fact constitute some of the most fundamental lenses through which we can comprehend the political dimensions and ramifications of globalization. Abjected as sites of sexual deviance and disproportion, olfactory grime and offensiveness, overweight and indiscipline, aggression and irrationality, as well as disposability, African migrant bodies in today’s world continually confront what Awad Ibrahim (1999) calls a Black “social imaginary—a discursive space in which they are already imagined, constructed, and thus treated as Blacks by hegemonic discourses and group” (p. 349). This paper considers the literary reimagining of these bodies in contemporary African poetry. Drawing on selected poems from Niyi Osundare’s City Without People: Katrina Poems, Amatoritsero Ede’s Globetrotters and Hitler’s Children, Gbenga Adeoba’s Exodus, Salfi Elhillo’s The January Children, and Tsitsi Jaji’s “On the Isle of Lesbos,” it considers the racialized contours of African migrants’ experiences in the West and how those experiences are overdetermined by essentialist conceptions of the African/Black body.

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