Transpolitical spaces in transnational French cinemas: Vampires and the illusions of national borders and universal citizenship

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Historically conceived as a 'welcoming land' (terre d'accueil), postcolonial France evokes a threshold of tolerance (seuil de tolérance) in relation to immigrants and refugees. This article considers the illusions of universal citizenship, alongside the illusions of national borders, by examining the 'terror' evoked by the transnational figure of the vampire within relations between France and Franco-Maghrebis in transnational French cinemas. Like the vampire, non-European nationals who are racialised as 'arabes' are denied the universal rights of citizenship in postcolonial France. Vampirism, however, signals a potential collapse of republicanism, which, because it extends colonialism, fails to recognise spaces for difference without the oppression of unidirectional assimilation. The article examines the racialisation of immigration and the politicisation of assimilation in France since the mid-1970s as these processes are imagined in two films that reject realist conventions of 'French national cinema' for anti-realist conventions of transnational genre cinema. Dracula, père et fils (Molinaro, 1976) and Un vampire au paradis (Bahloul, 1992) expose the 'common sense' and 'science' of racism within a transpolitical space of France and Algeria in ways that canonical films would not dare. As such, the films prompt a rethinking of French cinema beyond the often nationally or culturally discrete spaces of auteur cinema into global spaces of transnational genre films.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-126
Number of pages16
JournalFrench Cultural Studies
Volume22
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2011

Keywords

  • Abdelkrim Bahloul
  • Franco-Maghrebi
  • citizenship
  • postcolonial
  • vampire
  • Édouard Molinaro

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History

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