The purpose of the African Women in Cinema Blog is to provide a space to discuss diverse topics relating to African women in cinema--filmmakers, actors, producers, and all film professionals. The blog is a public forum of the Centre for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema.

Le Blog sur les femmes africaines dans le cinéma est un espace pour l'échange d'informations concernant les réalisatrices, comédiennes, productrices, critiques et toutes professionnelles dans ce domaine. Ceci sert de forum public du Centre pour l'étude et la recherche des femmes africaines dans le cinémas.

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Director/Directrice, Centre for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema | Centre pour l'étude et la recherche des femmes africaines dans le cinéma

05 October 2009

Evolving Identities of African Women in Cinema

Here I expand on the 16 April 2009 post “Negotiating Racialized Identities in African Women’s Films” to explore how African women tease out their evolving identities in their work or develop the characters in their films as conduits for this process.

Drawing from theories and approaches of Postcoloniality and Identity Studies I consider the multiple identities that women have as filmmakers and how these identities inform their work. Postcoloniality as a theoretical framework examines the social, political, cultural and economic context of former colonial subjects, locations, and structures. In so doing it disrupts and decenters the colonial-as-center paradigm. The Gaze of the “colonized” becomes the center of focus at the revisited site of colonialism. Identity is intricately linked to this project as deculturation and assimilation were important strategies of colonization. But perhaps the geo-politics of identities within a post-colonial and also post-modern context is what is most compelling as it is an intricate part of African women’s cinemas. Traveling, sojourning and relocating across the globe have required shifting or ultimately expanding their identity and thus, their cinema.

Some women approach their filmmaking from the context of immigration, linking the identity of their cinema with her own identity, which may be "one and multiple, and sometimes fragmented." 

Some, who have lived a large part of their lives outside of Africa, embrace African-related film projects, thus providing them with a connection to Africa.

Others, experiences many places that are very much part of their identity, not necessarily experiencing home in only one location and hence refuse to recognise designated geographical borders. They prefer to have the trans-African, cross-Diaspora situation play out powerfully in their work.

Still others express the desire to go beyond ethnicity and race which risks racial essentialism.

Using the lens as a vehicle to show their vision of the world, many African women transcend geographies, their imaginaire informed by the evolving identities that go beyond these boundaries as well. And thus, these identities frame their cinematic narratives as they embrace evolving locations and experiences.

Report by Beti Ellerson.
Update in March 2018 excludes specific names with quotes, but rather reflects general experiences.