Dr Zélie Asava is a lecturer, author and public speaker on race, gender and representation in screen studies.
“Zélie Asava’s Mixed Race Cinemas: Multiracial Dynamics in America and France is an important contribution to mixed race studies, because representation is treated as the source of identity, rather than its effect. Asava focuses on female black-white mixed race in film, from the tragic mulatta figure, through passing, over the 20th century, and shows how these earlier tropes continue into our own “post-binary” times. Fascinating, seductive, suffering, passive, and triumphant, these racially ambiguous actors and their characters timelessly reflect and create broad human conditions of provincialism, cosmopolitanism, oppression, liberation, grief, and joy. Mixed Race Cinemas should be required reading for all students of race and gender, as well as those who appreciate film.” – Naomi Zack, Professor of Philosophy, University of Oregon, USA
“Zélie Asava makes an important contribution with this smartly researched study of mixed race representation in U.S. and French films. Her analysis of relevant films and the mixed racial politics of these two national cinemas is cogent and sharply illuminating.” – Mary Beltrán, Associate Professor, The University of Texas at Austin, USA and co-editor, Mixed Race Hollywood
“Zélie Asava is a bold new voice in cinematic and mixed-race studies. She follows up her path-breaking first book, The Black Irish Onscreen, with Mixed Race Cinemas, a trenchant examination of mixed-race figures in nearly a century of French and American film, from the movies of Oscar Micheaux to mixed-race sci-fi. Her writing is grounded in but not burdened by theory and offers a fine-grained gender analysis. In offering sometimes startling insights, she deepens our understandings of the different racial systems that have evolved in each of these countries. This is a terrific book.” – Paul Spickard, Professor of History and Black Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA
Mixed-Race Dynamics and the French Road Movie: Drôle de Félix (Martineau & Ducastel, 2000)
The second feature film from directors Jacques Martineau and Olivier Ducastel takes as its protagonist Félix (Sami Bouajila), a youthful thirty-something homosexual man of European and North-African descent who lives in Dieppe with his white partner Daniel (Pierre-Loup Rajot). The film’s narrative begins after his mother’s death; while clearing out her home, Félix happens upon…
Geopolitical Paralysis in Sembene’s satire Xala (1975)
Adapted from legendary Senegalese director Ousmane Sembene’s 1973 novel, Xala is a visually stunning satire which plays on themes of corruption, inequality and shame via symbolic hyper-realism. Xala uses humour to expose the harsh realities of neo-colonialism in 1970s Senegal, an enduring state of enforced dependency on the former colonising power regarding aid, education, military,…
Decolonial Feminist Films: Safi Faye’s Selbe et tant d’autres (Senegal, 1983) and Trinh T. Min-ha’s Reassemblage (USA, 1982)
In her 1988 essay ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak argued that representation must be viewed as double; first it is a space in which people find a category of representatives, and second it is a space of re-presentation, a space for rhetoric and realism. The subaltern cannot speak, it does not have power…
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