African cyborgs: females and feminists in African science fiction film

Bisschoff, L. (2020) African cyborgs: females and feminists in African science fiction film. Interventions: The International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, 22(5), pp. 606-623. (doi: 10.1080/1369801X.2019.1659155)

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African feminist writers argue black female bodies should be understood as interactions between materiality and the symbolic constructions of the body embedded within a given culture. They caution that an overemphasis on corporeality and embodiment denies subjectivity to black women. Responding to such concerns, contemporary African cultural and creative practitioners offer alternatives to continuing objectification and bodily stereotyping. In this essay I am particularly interested in the alternative visions of black female bodies presented in African speculative and science fiction film – visions which, I argue, engage colonial histories and local traditions in order to imagine a future inclusive of empowered female protagonists. I explore how the fictional configurations and cyborg imaginations of African sci-fi deconstruct and subvert the fixity, corporeality, fragility and captivity of the black female body. Drawing on African feminism and feminist science fiction in particular, I attempt to construct a theoretical framework through which to approach the representation of female bodies in sci-fi film from Africa. In the work of filmmakers such as Cameroonian Jean-Pierre Bekolo (Les Saignantes, 2005 and Naked Reality, 2016), Ghanaian filmmaker Frances Bodomo (Afronauts, 2014), Kenyan director Wanuri Kahiu (Pumzi, 2009) and South African filmmakers Michael Matthew (Sweetheart, 2010) and Amy van Houten (Elf, 2015), we find female-centred fantastical narratives that recast African women as futuristic cyborgs. Reminiscent of Donna Haraway's cyborg feminism of the late twentieth century, these filmmakers adapt the genres of fantasy and sci-fi to speculate about alternative African pasts and futures.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Bisschoff, Dr Lizelle
Authors: Bisschoff, L.
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Theatre Film and TV Studies
Journal Name:Interventions: The International Journal of Postcolonial Studies
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN (Online):1469-929X
Published Online:19 September 2019
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor and Francis Group
First Published:First published in Interventions: The International Journal of Postcolonial Studies 22(5):606-623
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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