Fanon, Baldwin and the Question of Race in (Political) Cinema
Session of the Cross-media and Film-Philosophy Seminar: Blackness in Philosophy and Media. Introduced by Patricia Pisters. Please join to discuss the power of Hollywood and more explicitly political cinema in relation to the work of Baldwin and Fanon, both in a historical perspective and in relation the relevance of their work today.
For our December session we will read two texts from 1963: James Baldwin’s “My Dungeon Shook: Letter to My Nephew” from The Fire Next Time and Frantz Fanon’s “Concerning Violence” (or more recently translated as “On Violence” from The Wretched of the Earth.
Both Baldwin and Fanon’s work have (only) recently been translated into Dutch. The Dutch Baldwin translation (Niet door Water maar door vuur, De Geus 2018) is preceded by an introduction by Gloria Wekker, written in the form of a letter to her cousin. Those who read Dutch are invited to also read Wekker’s letter. Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks is translated as Zwarte Huid, Witte Maskers (Octavo 2018) and will be presented in De Balie on 13 December 2018 (See here)
During our seminar session we will mainly focus on Fanon’s other classic text on violence.
While Baldwin addresses the American situation and Fanon was deeply involved in the Algerian decolonialization War of Independence with France, they both share the perspective that European and American white people have to acknowledge their own role in history in its full dimensions and consequences, beyond what Wekker call ‘white innocence’ and that is referred to by Baldwin as ‘dangerous ignorance’ and by Fanon as ‘Sleeping Beauty-syndrome.’
Taking Baldwin’s motto ‘Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed that is not faced’ as a guideline, the session will start with a presentation (inspired by the International Film Festival’s programs on Black Rebels in 2017 and PanAfrican Cinema Today in 2018) by Patricia Pisters. She will address the racial power construction embedded in D.W. Griffiths Birth of a Nation (1915) and D.J. Spooky’s remixing of this film as Rebirth of a Nation (2015); and addressing the ways in which political cinema embodies the legacy of Frantz Fanon by looking at Gillo Pontecorvo Quiemada (with Marlon Brando & Evaristo Marquez) from 1969 (which was shelved for a long time) and The Congo Tribunal by Milo Rau from 2017. While Birth of a Nation claims ‘innocence’(and became a template for much of Hollywood cinema), Quiemada and The Congo Tribunal show the power structures that are still in play today – with devastating consequences.
Please join to discuss the power of Hollywood and more explicitly political cinema in relation to the work of Baldwin and Fanon, both in a historical perspective and in relation the relevance of their work today.
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