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Contact Zones

Memory, Origin, and Discourses in Black Diasporic Cinema

Sheila J. Petty

Award Winner

African Diaspora, Cultural Studies, Film Theory and Criticism

Contemporary Approaches to Film and Media Series

Paperback
Published: January 2008
ISBN: 9780814330999
Pages: 312 Size: 6x9
Illustrations: 16 black and white images
eBOOK
Published: January 2008
ISBN: 9780814339909
Review

Petty's work is a welcome addition to the disciplines of film studies, Africana studies, and cultural studies.

— Frances Gateward

Created at the crossroads of slavery, migration, and exile, and comprising a global population, the black diaspora is a diverse space of varied histories, experiences, and goals. Likewise, black diasporic film tends to focus on the complexities of transnational identity, which oscillates between similarity and difference and resists easy categorization. In Contact Zones author Sheila J. Petty addresses a range of filmmakers, theorists, and issues in black diasporic cinema, highlighting their ongoing influences on contemporary artistic and theoretical discourses.

Petty examines both Anglophone and Francophone films and theorists, divided according to this volume’s three thematic sections—Slavery, Migration and Exile, and Beyond Borders. The feature films and documentaries considered—which include Sankofa, Daughters of the Dust, The Man by the Shore, and Rude, among others—represent a wide range of cultures and topics. Through close textual analysis that incorporates the work of well-known diasporic thinkers like W. E. B. DuBois, Aimé Césaire, and Frantz Fanon along with contemporary notables such as Molefi Kete Asante, bell hooks, Clenora Hudson-Weems, René Depestre, Paul Gilroy, and Rinaldo Walcott, Petty details the unique ways in which black diasporic films create meaning.

By exploring a variety of African American, Caribbean, Black British, and African Canadian perspectives, Contact Zones provides a detailed survey of the diversity and vitality of black diasporic contributions to cinema and theory. This volume will be a welcome addition to the libraries of scholars and students of film studies and Africana studies.

Sheila J. Petty is professor of film and video studies at the University of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Contact Zones is an erudite, articulate, and much-needed examination of a celebrated, yet neglected, area of cinema. Petty's work is a welcome addition to the disciplines of film studies, Africana studies, and cultural studies.

– Frances Gateward, assistant professor of African American studies and film at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and co-editor of Where the Boys Are: Cinemas of Masculinity and Youth

Shelia J. Petty plumbs the depths of postcolonial and black diasporic expressivity to provide cogent and powerful analyses of some of the most important black cinematic excursions of the last half of the 20th century. This work stands as a witness to the power of black cinema to render complex, complicated, and cross-resonant expressions for renarrating and rethinking human life in a post-Columbus world. It is essential reading across the humanities and social sciences for anyone interested in how the modern world comes into being from a black diasporic cinematic perspective.

– Rinaldo Walcott, associate professor of cultural studies at the University of Toronto and editor of New Dawn: The Journal of Black Canadian Studies

  • 2008 Saskatchewan Book Award for Scholarly Writing - Result: Shortlisted for the 2008 awards
  • 2008 Saskatchewan Book Award for Scholarly Writing - Result: Shortlisted for the 2008 awards