I am presenting this paper at the Re-Presenting Diaspora conference –
White rhizomes and the racial sublime: rethinking diaspora and subjectivity
The dominant western discourses in contemporary cinematic and digital media theories have effectively incorporated the concept of diaspora in the reconfiguration of new dispersed networks of power/knowledge. This ‘diasporic turn’ in the development of cybernetic theory has tended to produce ‘rootless subjectivities’ transversing the rhizomatic flows of deterritorialized, affective, post-national global cultures. This nomadism offers a post-racial, post-representational utopia where cultural differences are constantly mutating into new lines of flight.
This paper begins to posit this decontextualised, abstract mobilisation of diaspora in this cyber-theory as symptomatic of the attempt to recolonise the political field of difference and alterity with the racialised production of an eurocentric, ‘flexible and mutating’ universal whiteness, as it encounters the forces of decolonialization and transnational anti-racism.
Through reference to specific post 9/11 media events, the paper considers the productive registers and limitations of Deleuzian informed theories of cine-media in critiquing contemporary geo-political power and subjectivity. By drawing together Afrofuturism, diasporic multi-culture and in particular psychoanalytical race theory, I attempt to develop a critical postcolonial analysis of gendered subaltern survival, trauma and loss in the ruins of western racial terror and paranoid liberal (post)representational bio-politics.
Re-Presenting Diasporas in Cinema and New (Digital) Media
An international conference hosted by the University of Exeter, 24th – 25th July, 2007
‘Café Bou’ – copyright: Abdul Hakim Onitolo (200
Professor Hamid Naficy (John Evans Professor of Communications, Northwestern University, USA),
Roshini Kempadoo (Media Artist and Senior Lecturer in Digital Media Production, University of East London)
John Akomfrah (independent film maker, London)
Inge Blackman (filmmaker)
Dr Rajinder Dudrah (Senior Lecturer in Screen Studies, Manchester, UK)
Coco Fusco (performance artist and theorist)
Julian Henriques (independent filmmaker and lecturer, Department of Media and Communication, Goldsmiths College, UK)
Eddie George and Anna Piva (electronic musicians and sound artists)
At the heart of the ‘Re-presenting Diasporas’ conference is a desire to bring together academics, filmmakers and digital artists/practitioners who already share research interests relating to Diaspora Studies. Cinema remains arguably the most prominent visual medium for articulating the experiences of diaspora. Yet there is also a diverse range of new (digital) media (artworks that use multimedia, computers or communications technologies in creative expression) into which cinema is increasingly incorporated, and through which artists are choosing to represent and debate diaspora. These new (digital) media offer a range of possibilities for the field of Diaspora Studies: creating new global networks (e.g. the internet) through which representations of diaspora can be constructed and disseminated; questioning the relationship between history, ideology and technology; as well as enabling dialogue around the complex representational politics of diaspora through their greater interactivity.
‘Still from multimedia artwork Ghosting (2004)’ by Roshini Kempadoo
The ‘Re-presenting Diasporas’ conference aims to break new and significant intellectual ground by offering a research forum for questioning the current state of theorizing around diaspora: is the often contested (and at times abstract theoretical) notion of ‘Diaspora’ still viable? Can new (digital) media offer a means of connection or greater coherency to our understanding of diasporas around the globe? How might these translate into new forms of digital representation to articulate established questions of diaspora, history/memory and cultural identity? What is cinema’s place in all of this?
The conference programme will include mixed panels of filmmakers, artists and academics (and individuals working across these categories) that will include papers, screenings and presentations of new work. In addition to these panels, there will be presentations, performances and discussions with internationally renowned filmmakers and artists including Coco Fusco, John Akomfrah and Eddie George and Anna Piva. Panels will be grouped around shared interests or themes relating to the questions of diaspora addressed by the conference. Topics will include but are not limited to:
- The politics of representing diaspora in cinema and new (digital) media
- Diasporas as real and imagined experience
- New media, audiences and visual culture
- Diasporic images: from the ‘margins‘ to the ‘mainstream‘
- Diaspora, ‘race’, gender and the body
- Revisiting difference through representation
- Theorizing ‘beyond’ diaspora
- Digital memory and the material world
See conference website for Programme and further details www.sall.ex.ac.uk/content/view/710/3/