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1 SUBALTERN MIGRANCY AND TRANSNATIONAL LOCALITY: THE UNDOCUMENTED AFRICAN IMMIGRANT IN INTERNATIONAL CINEMA By CLAUDIA HOFFMANN A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFIL LMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2010
2 2010 Claudia Hoffmann
3 To my Parents Fr meine Eltern
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS First of all I would like t o thank my chair Barbara Mennel for offering g uidance and feedback during the completion process of this project and for being extremely generous with her time She has furthermore offered invaluable advice and support during the job search process and I am extremely grateful for this I also would li ke to thank Akintunde Akinyemi for my w onderful Yoruba experience at the University of Florida and his tireless and invaluable efforts to allow me to join the 2008 GPA and spend the summer of 2008 in Ile Ife, Nigeria. I furthermore thank him for his amazin g support as my committee member and professor. I thank Amy Ongiri for sharing her expertise on African cinema as my committee member, as well as for letting me share my passion for Nollywood with her undergraduate film class. Furthermore, I am grateful to Mark Reid and Sylvie Blum Reid who have been generous and supportive committee members and provided invaluable advice and input. I can truly say that my committee has been a pleasure to work with and I thank everyone for helping to make this a productive, insightful, and smooth process. Special thanks also go to Pamela Gilbert, Creed Greer, Robert Thomson, Raul Sanchez, William Hasty, and Sharon Difino for their support during my time as a graduate student especially with regards to funding I thank Da n Brown and Aniruddha Mukhopadhay for the open ears and many milkshakes, Jessica Morey for being the best Yoruba companion one could wish for, as well as Carolyn Kelley Melissa Mellon, Jonathan Barnes, and Matt Feltman for their friendship. Special thanks go to the members of my dissertation group, Heather Bigley, Yunkyun J o, Emily McCann, and Erin Tobin, for their generous feedback on multiple chapter drafts. In other parts of the
5 country and the world I thank Deb Rankin, Serkan Gorkemli, Jeremy Hall, Ju lia Winkel, and Katrin Keskinoglu for overcoming the distance and being the most amazing friends without whom this would not have happened. I owe them my sanity. Very special thanks also go to Eugene Sinclair for his love and support and for always knowi ng that I will finish this and therefore keeping me motivated. I am grateful for a partner who believes in me like he does and who makes me laugh when I need it the most. And finally, but most importantly I thank my family for their continuous support and cheerleading. I especially thank Katja and Eckhardt for always making it seem as if I have never left and Yannik and Nele for being the most amazing niece and nephew on the planet. And finally, I am grateful that my parents always encouraged me to explore my interests and that they stood by me during this long process. I could not have done it without them.
6 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 7 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 9 Undocumented Migration and International Ci nema ................................ ................. 9 The Dispersal of Margins and Subaltern Diasporas ................................ ................ 13 Migration, Globalized Imaginations, and Cinema ................................ .................... 17 Accented Cinema and Clandestine Migration ................................ ......................... 21 2 IMAGINATIONS, MOBILITY, AND BORDER CROSSINGS ................................ .... 29 From Postcolonial Ties to Globalized Imaginations in a Shifting Migrant Cinema ... 29 The Transitional Desert Space by the Sea ................................ .............................. 37 Into the Subaltern Diaspora: Cinematic Border Crossings ................................ ...... 51 3 THE CINEMATIC CREATION AND NEGOTIATION OF CLANDESTINE LABORSCAPES ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 67 The Significance of Undocumented Labor in International Cinema ........................ 67 Exploitation and Resistance in The Rural Laborscape ................................ ............ 70 Mapping the Subaltern Laborscape of Hospitality ................................ ................... 74 Street Vending in the European Urban Jungle ................................ ........................ 92 Subalterity, Illegality, and Urban Crime ................................ ................................ ... 94 Urbanity and Clandestine Labor in Accented Nollywood Films ............................. 101 4 LOCALIZATION AND MEMORY: The CINEMATIC REPRE SENTATION OF SPACE ........ 111 Diasporic Perceptions of Place in Cinema ................................ ............................. 111 Nostalgia, Resentment, and the Re branding of Nigeria ................................ ........ 111 Alienation, Loneliness, and Death ................................ ................................ ........ 134 The Subaltern Diaspora as a Place of Healing ................................ ..................... 139 5 CONCLUSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 147 BIBLIOGRAPHY ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 152 FILMOGRAPHY ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 159 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 160
7 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy SUBAL TERN MIGRANCY AND TRANSNATIONAL LOCALITY: THE UNDOCUMENTED AFRICAN IMMIGRANT IN INTERNATIONAL CINEMA By Claudia Hoffmann August 2010 Chair: Barbara Mennel Major: English Clandestine African migration into the global North has been discussed extensivel y in the social sciences over the past two decades, but the representations of undocumented immigrant characters in literature and film have not yet received significant critical recognition. This dissertation is a response to the scarcity of scholarship o n visual representations of contemporary clandestine mi gration movements out of West Africa. By analyzing cinematically recreated and visualized secret border crossings and clandesti ne lives in the Global North, I want to contribute to the current discours e on transit cinema to account for the filmic specificities used in recreating a cinema about a My discussion includes films by European and African filmmakers, among them Abderrahmane Sissako Mohammed Soudani, Stephen Frears, Jean Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Jean Marie T no Sola Osofisan, and others. This dissertation addresses tropes such as imaginations, waiting, hope, and invisibility that appear consistently in the films. In addition, I define and outline th e
8 cinematic subaltern laborscape, based on Arjun Appadurai's definition of global scapes through comparing cinematic spaces and conditions in and under which undocumented African workers act and in which they negotiate their relationship with the work place, fellow clandestine workers, and middlemen who can move between illegal and legal laborscapes. I thereby maintain that The creation of clandestine landscapes within the subaltern labor diaspora remains inextricably linked to the imagination of the mi grant and its constant revision. Furthermore I discuss the cinematic representation, on and off screen, of the migrants' countries of origin vis vis the representation of the host nation states in the context of undocumented labor. The portrayal of th e host nation state often quite obviously reflects on the filmmakers' background as well as the most prevalent national discourse on clandestine immigration in the film's country of production in that the productions reflect on societal anxieties regarding immigration. While many European filmmakers highlight issues of xenophobia and racism in their films, both in the narrative position within the host culture, especi ally as s/he relates to other immigrants from her/his home country.
9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Undocumented Migration and International Cinema Recent filmmaking across the globe shapes and has been shaped by globalization processes in which exchange, borders, a nd flows of people and objects, i ncluding the films themselves, challenge commonly held notions of nation states, ave broadened our percept ion of national cinemas, emphasized concepts of transnational identities and highlighted the changing characters of contemporary borders. When it comes to film studies, t he and plotlines, but also to cast and crew, filmmaking techniques, funding, and distribution. In other words, the formerly clear cut geographies of a film have become increasingly difficult to pinpoint as the production process increasingly transcends natio nal borders. At the same time, filmmakers have taken on issues of migration which lead to a number of films that are transnational in their conception, narrative, production, and distribution. In this dissertation I highlight a yet different part of what constitutes the transnational. I am thereby responding to the scarcity of scholarship on cinematic representations of contemporary clandestine migration movements out of Africa I situate this modern diaspora vis vis the old dia spora born out of the Atla ntic s lave trade as they all relate to mobility and the restriction thereof The relationship between migration and historical and contemporary global dynamics within which the global North presents itself as a s pace of progress
10 and opportunity, while at the same time barring most citizens of the global South from participating frames this analys By analyzing cinematically recreated and visualized secret border crossings and clandestine lives in the North, I als o attempt to refine current discourse on transit cinema to account for the filmic specificities in productions that cinematically recreate complexities My emphasis of migration out of Africa reflects on my concern with the links between the old and the new African diaspora because for Africans, exile and alienation are not unilateral but rather multi 60). Large n umbers of Africans, particularly from West African countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, and Senegal, among others, have migrated to Europe and the United Statessince the 1980s. During the years 2000 until 2004, a reported 387,000 undocumented African migrants and 5,000 alleged traffickers were stopped and arrested at the border between Morocco and Spanish Ceuta in North Africa ( Falola and Afolabi). After this border was secured in 2005, Europe bound African migrants turned to other routes and destinations to g et them inside the European borders, among them the Spanish Canary Islands off the West African coast and the Italian island of Lampedusa in the Mediterranean. In August 2009, almost 75 migrants, most of them from Eritrea, died when their boat ran out of p etrol while enroute from Libya to Lampedusa. Libyan and Italian heads of states are working in collaboration to stop African migrants who attempt to reach the European shore by boat because they were not able to acquire visas. The human tragedy of failed a ttempts by African migrants to cross European borders without detection has become a familiar part of newscast in many European
11 countries. But even for those who do make it into Europe, this success is often short lived, as it was for the passenger on my 2 008 flight from Frankfurt to Lagos who begged the police officers who had brought him on the plane in handcuffs to not deport him. By the time we arrived at Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, I had become painfully aware of my freedom and tha t of others to cross borders because of our citizenship, social status, and/or profession while large parts of the global population do not enjoy the same freedom of mobility. Unfortunately, the debate on unauthorized migration has been dominated by those Mojbol Olfnk Okome and Bertrade Ngo Ngijol Banoum [in] the wake of September 11, 2001, Europe continues to shore up its anti immigrant fortress to combat w ( 5). Therefore, while newspaper articles about drowned migrants might create sympathy tills fear for the livelihood of the nation state residents The political discourse of undocumented immigreation is further complicated by the obscure nature of unauthorized border crossings and the failure to acco unt for first place. National cinemas often reflect on contemporary societal fears such as the above mentioned fear of being flooded with illegal immigrants and fo r the past two decades, the issue of clandestine African migration to the global North has made its way into a number of films from a variety of countries. While individual commercially
12 successful films, such as Stephen Frears' Dirty Pretty Things (United Kingdom, 2002) have drawn scholarly attention, the majority of productions and their central theme of undocumented African migration have not yet received significant critical recognition. I y filmmakers around the globe and how the films themselves influence these migration movements. More ferent cinematic aesthetics and filmmaking traditions recreate the global spaces that undocumented African migrants occupy in Europe and the United States. I am thereby focusing on cultural productions that are primarily concerned with undocumented African immigrants in the Global North because although migrant cinema has been in the spotlight of current criticism for example through the groundbreaking work of Hamid Naficy and Laura Marks this particular side of global movement has n ot yet received much a ttention in film studies Here I foreground films in which West African migrant characters play significant roles. For many diasporic West Africans, today's comparably easy access to West African films, particularly from Nigeria and Ghana, has given Afri can cinema a new significance within African migrant communities in the West. Many African films, specifically those that are part of Nollywood, the booming Nigerian video film industry, that depict legal as well as illegal migration are now more easily available to Africans in the diaspora through Internet downloads and streamings. Therefore, these films are more likely to reach the African diaspora, both legal and illegal, than literature, which emphasizes th e significance of visual images In addition, a number of international
13 productions from both Europe and the United States have attempted to describe the difficult circumstances of undocumented African migrants in the West and make visible the spaces within which the individual navigates a life of il legality, uncertainty, and ra cism from a Western perspective. The Dispersal of Margins and Subaltern Diasporas e Atlantic, or rather the Instead, it highlights the failure of current diaspora studies to fully account for the specificities of modern migration waves out of Africa. More importantly, however, Zeleza points to the : It is interesting that, whereas the other diasporas are defined in national or ethnic or even ideological terms, for Africa they are simply called African; whether the referent used is racial or spatial is not always clear. Also common are point is that other diaspora s have ethnic names, national names, or even linguistic and religious names. (40) The need for African Diaspora Studies to expand its focus is obvious not because the Black Atlantic has lost its validity, but because of the need to critically assess the c more recent migration patterns. The social sciences have covered significant ground in debating contemporary migration, but as far as literary and cinematic expressions of recent Afri can immigration are concerned, scholars still have some catching up to do. My contribution emphasizes a sub(altern) diaspora in which clandestine migrants have gained access to the geographical location
14 of a Nor thern host nation, but cannot become part of the hegemonic culture, which includes access to civil rights, employment, healthcare, and other rights and services. In the context of gaining temporary access to the economic privileges of the global North, Gay serves as a starting point for my theoretical framework to discuss undocumented temporary labor migration. Cinematic representations of North bound African migration exemplify obal North: In the n ew diaspora the new scattering of the 'seeds' of 'developing' nations so that they can take root on developed grounds means: Eurocentric migration, labor export both male and female, border crossings, the seeking of political asylum, and the haunting in place uprooting of 'com fort women' in Africa and Asia. (357) Spivak also urges us to acknowledge that migrancy is a result of the margin wanting to permission to difference and an instrument for disavowing that Euroc entric economic migration persists in In other words, cultural identity cannot be used to grant d ifferent rights to different people, as is being done in immigration policies of most, if not all, nation states. Spivak also speaks in favor of acknowledging that South North migration is the result of a desire to become part of the dominant for both the intellectual and the subaltern migrant. Migration, according to Spivak, is the attempt of the margin to enter the dominant. Spivak provocatively labels poor migrants from third world countries the to highlight a process of disinteg ration or destruction. The term diaspora itself suggests dispersal or shattering The poor migrant of the global South becomes which now seek livelihood
15 in the diaspora because the center o f their respective nation state cannot provide it for subsequent dispersal. In doing so she alludes to the necessity that a destructive force must exist, which, in he r mind, is the neocolonial economic situation. The margins are destructed by an exploitative global capitalism and turn to the resource of this destructive force, the North, for survival and participation. In suggesting this, Spivak shifts the focus away from the variety of push and pull factors which are problematic because they categorize migration into This is to say that the movement of people who are pushed out of their country by war, persecution, hunger, or other hu manitarian situations that give them access to asylum laws is considered justified and they are able to legally seek asylum and therefore gain legal access to the nation state (at least initially). Seeking out the North without having face d direct physica l or mental harm back home makes immigrants undesirable, especially when they have entered the country without documen seems to be directly linked to the impact of the immigrant on the nation state. Asy lum seekers are only supposed to stay temporarily. They are often housed in institutions among themselves and in many nation states, they are not allowed to find employment, which denies them access to economic opportunity even if they are temporarily safe from physical and mental harm from which they fled (although they are likely exposed to other challenges in the diaspora). South North migration are irrelevant. Regardless of whether migration results fr om economic political or other reasons, South North migration is ultimately always caused
16 by a geo political and global economic present. In light of this view on migration, there is North migration. Instead, members of the global South, according to Spivak, have a right to participate in the North regardless of what their personal reason for migration might be because Northern imperialism has created the unequal global conditions in the first place. Furthermore, g lobaliz at ion discourse and theory need s refinement in order to account for the variety and diversity of the components included in globaliz ation processes Ulrich Beck argues that globalization which sovereign national states are criss crossed and undermined by transnational actors Davis 34, emphasis mine). The difference in opportunities between global actors to gain access t o certain spaces within gl obaliz ation dynamics is based on who they are, where they are from, and what they know. My interest lies with those transnational migrants who undermine the world order created by nation states who make up the global economic elite. Global inequality parti cularly manifests itself in the experience of global migrants who cannot rely on citizenship, visas, and economic resources to navigate across borders and within foreign nation states where they are not welcome. Within the current world order, diasporic mo vements include the dispersal of people who do not necessarily share a cultural and/or ethnic background, but a position within global attempts to improve their lives and livelihoods are not considered legitimate by the nation states of the global North that are both the destinations and the judges of who can enter and who can stay. Often
17 the discourse around unauthoriz ed immigration tak es place within and from the point of view of exactly those nation states that have established restrictive immigration policies and use those to label this group of immigrants illegal, unwanted, a burden, and even a threat. Eithne Luibhid points out tha policymakers and analysts tend to treat illegal immigration as a self evident problem that is generated by and reflects undesirable illegalizaton is only one dimension of unauthoriz ed migration in our contemporary world order. I argue that clandestine transnational border crossings are as much acts of agency and resistance through which poor transnational migrants defy blatant global inequality. M igration, Globalized Imaginations and Cinema Arjun Ap padurai addresses the triggers that lead people to leave their home meet mobile audiences which generates a complex interplay between consumption, mobility, localization, a nd identification (Appadurai 7) Out of this interplay, new images are created that start the cycle all over again. Or to say it in terms of cinema, circulating films, especially in the digital age and therefore with easier access, create imaginations and the migrants who have developed those imaginations and create their realization through movement might make films that again circulate. The discussion of undocumented transnational migration requires a close look at the triggers that are responsible for c onvincing individuals to leave behind what they know to enter a life that is unpredictable by secretly crossing borders into nation states they have never seen before.
18 through mass largely shape contemp the stimulus to move or return are deeply affected by a mass mediated imaginary that For example, In his 2005 film This America screenwriter and director Bethels Agomuoh recreates the important link between circulating media images and immigration. The film begins with a street scene in a New York City neighborhood in which immigrants sell and b u y DVDs and CDs. The arrival and subsequent chase with the police indicates the illegality of the sales, but it also reflects on the cycle of media images that inspire immigrants who might very well end up having to engage in the illegal selling of these media images, including this film itself. In his d iscussion of gl obalization and modernity, Appadurai summarizes the economically nec essitates the imagination of the target country as a place where narratives that c largely shape contemporary migration People then shape their movement according to how they perceive the world and how they want to situate themselves in the diasporic spheres of a world that is constantly on the move. Appadurai accounts for the formation of complex diasporas by formulating al cultural flows that can be termed (a) ethnoscapes (b) mediascapes (c) technoscapes (d) financescape and (e) ideoscapes (33, emphasis in original). He emphasizes that the scapes are changeable and dependent on the perspective from which they are vi ewed and integrated into an imagined worldview. The
19 perspective of what labor is worth shapes the imagination of a prosperous vs. a poor country and the desire of a prospective migrant to leave one nation state and move to another. The prosperi ty of a na tion state, according to Appadu rai, can also be mediated through technoscapes in that, for example, sophisticated technology crosses borders and BMWs appear in well off neighborhoods in Lagos and Accra. In fact, Nollywood films are known for their array of luxury cars and houses and convey the impression that most people in Lagos drive these vehicles and live in lavish mansions These cars are associated with quality, high value, and a high price and become associated with the global region in which they w ere produced. At the same time, the BMW becomes a symbol of wealth and opportunity that is supposedly more easily accessible in the global North. Financescapes can shape imaginations and desires in form of the impact of remittances that flow back into the of global capital that takes place removed from global investment and stock exchanges. Furthermore, this particular form of financescape is often the driving force behind a here because this flow of money sustains a community back home. The target nation state then becomes an imagined place that can as much money as needed to substantia lly support the community back home leads to prolonged stays in the glob al North. depictions of places, events, etc. that the viewer or reader transforms into an imagined reality that app lies to his or her own life and that of the community. These scripts, as
20 of possible lives, fantasies that could become prolegomena to the desire for acquisition and newspapers, internet, and similar globally circulating media. Several African immigrant Dollars and Dreams West Africans in New Y ork explain that they watched movies set in New York and started to imagine it as a place of opportunity and prosperity they wanted to move to. Ironically, the most compelling images of nation states are produced in national cinema that is distributed inte rnationally, but originates in the nation state that restricts the immigration of people who seek out the imagined places shaped by products from this nation state. it i nto the hometowns and create similar imaginations all over again. The driving forces behind the migration attempts in the films I am discussing in this dissertation are largely economical and therefore migrants are often considered undesirab le. Beginning in the 1990s, European nations have experienced increased anxiety with r egards to what they perceived as being overrun by illegal immigrants. This anxiety has been expressed in a number of films that depict the migration experience of their p rotagonists and at the same time take stock of the nation and its attitudes towards migration. Spanish and Italian films made during that decade, for example, often harvest worker s. 1 National cinema is largely understood to be a cinema that reflects on the nation state and in some shape or form offers channels of identification and 1 These films include, besides the ones discussed here, the Spanish production Bwana (1996) by Imanol Uribe and the Italian 1990 film Pummaro by Michele Placido.
21 difference based on and shaped by a national identity, but also informing this identity. Philip Schle singer draws on Andrew Higson who suggests that national cinema by looking at a range of features: its industrial and business aspects, Furthermore, one o 8). However, at the same time n ational cinemas become increasingly transnational due to globalization processes that change the ethnic and national make up o f nation states, as well as the increasing recognition of diasporic filmmakers whose films transcend national boundaries to account for multinational identities. National cinema in the global age is not about nation building or binding a nationa l collectiv e, but rather an expression and a product of the nation both in content, form and modes of production. In this dissertation I argue that films about undocumented immigrants made by European filmmakers very clearly reflect on the national debate on the sam e issues The most important feature of national cinema in the context of this discussion is that it sparks discussions about identity and difference, ethnicities, traditions, tensions between the inside and the outside, and relationships between film indu stries. Accented Cinema and Clandestine Migration Hamid Naficy argues in his book Accented Cinema Exilic and Diasporic Filmmaking deterritorialized peoples and their films share certain fe Naficy offers a specific perspective of exilic filmmaking in terms of aesthetics and
22 in exile. Accented cinema, or films made by dete rritorialized individuals, according to Naficy, needs to be viewed with the displacement of the filmmaker in mind because of its reflection o approach I argue, the discussion should be extended to films by non exilic filmmakers that trace and represent diasporic movements of people without visas and green cards because the common goal of these ith questions of displacement. Therefore I intend to highlight the features that many of the films concerned with undocumented migration have in common I want to show ema, employ techniques of fragmentation, communication, reflection, and many other features that re inscribe the political and social concern of undocumented migration in terms of journey, arrival, displacement, alienation, secrecy, opportunity, and loss. Furthermore, the value of these films lies in their capability of separating individual migration experiences from the macro level discourse of diaspora and transnationalism. While the individual experience of undocumen ted migration remains mostly hidden in reality films can take on the role of aesthetic representation as social practice by visualizing the underbelly of global migration waves that circulate in the form of exploitative labor formerly associated for example, with third world sweatshops. Th e representation of individual undocumented migration in almost all of these films is closely related to this form of exploitative labor Therefore, the films illustrate the global forces of economic inequality by highlighting the personal global experienc e. During the course of my analysis I argue that there is a distinct difference between clandestine
23 migration films made by European filmmakers and those made by accented filmmakers. What distinguishes many Africans migrants and almost all the characters in the movies discussed herein, from other migrant groups is that they are less concerned with building a permanent life in the diaspora than with meeting economic goals Instead, the primary intent is to take a piece of the Northern economy home to suppo rt local communities such as families and villages. Moreover, my discussion centers on migrants who are not able to cross national borders legally due to restrictive immigration policies, and are therefore undocumented. I also take a closer look at how th e prospective immigrant imagines the global North in relation to its potential benefit for the African local context or the individual him/herself. At the same time, as I have mentioned before, the very production of the se films represents the creation of i maginations in that they are fictionalized, filmed, and released back into the global flow of images that informs the global constituents about the North (and the South, for that matter). I will discuss the representation of how the African local is infor med by global flows that make up a collective imagination because t hese films represent the formation of imaginations concerning economic opportunities in the global North in both narrative and aesthetics. I suggest that current discourse requires refineme nt in order to account for not only the unique situation of illegal immigrants, but also that of illegal African immigrants whose main goal is not the that can flow ba ck into the global South. In other words, this particular way of temporarily gaining access to economic opportunity and its representation in cinema needs to be situated in a discourse that so far has highlighted notions of border
24 crossings, identity forma tion, and cultural conflict in a context of more permanent migration and resettlement. Naficy asserts that the globalization of cinema experience s an important shift in that third world filmmakers are now making films in the West In order to account for this, I am including a group of African filmmakers into this discussion to highlight how filmmakers as well as their films embody developed without influence and without support from Northern countries. By using Nollywood conventions to visualize clandestine migration experiences, Nigerian migr filmmakers have created cultural productions that are transnational on multiple levels. people in the diaspora have an identity in their homeland before their departure, and their ation and its llective memory of the homeland The subaltern migrant, however, does not necessarily have access to this ethnoscape because, as Spivak reminds us, s/he is concerned about hiding and survival. By forced to take a close look at the creating forces behind illegal diasporic spaces, such as the interplay of economic and social pressures and the restricted mobilit y of poor African nationals. Dovey also emphasizes the significance of the geographical positioning when making films about protagonists who either try to or actually cross borders between the African and, in these particular cases, the Europe an and North
25 American continent: Although the situation of exile is defined by pain, there is also artistic aesthetic and moral ethical pleasure to be found here, due to the creativity s cultural productions from a variety of geographical locations with complicated historical, political, and economic relationship, there seems to be a tendency to situate cultural productions within these relationships. In African filmmaking, the concept o f global spaces gains increased significance because of the complicated history of national African film cultures. Colonialism has established a global hierarchy still dominated by inequality and geographical division in terms of prosperity, but also of gl obal visibility of national film productions. African films, especially when they have not received significant funding from European sources, still depend on international film festivals for audience recognition. Local audiences, on the other hand, rarely gain access to these films. In film studies, African film scholars fought, and are still fighting, the battle of They also contest the still overwhelming dominance of cinema produced in the g lobal North in u niversity classrooms and at conference panels. Moreover, even the field itself is riddled with hierarchical perceptions of what constitutes In the case of African cinema, to oppositional ). 2 This is not to say that the circumstan ces of production do not matter; in fact in my analysis they absolutely do, but that analyses should not sta y within a respective category. 2
26 C ategories are especially problematic because they imply a hierarchy of high and low culture in which Nollywood is clearly at the very bottom in contemporary c riticism. I try to emphasize that we can only eradicate the hierarchies of high and low cultures when we analyze them horizontally, rather than vertically. This is to say that Nollywood films should be discussed at North American conferences about film stu dies and popular culture to legitimize their existence in scholarship outside of the African context In this dissertation I categorize the films herein according to issues and features that are relevant in the context of clandestine migration This is no t an attempt at invalidating ca tegories of African, European, diasporic, or accented c inema, but rather my effort to argue in favor of another category that spans all of the above and sheds I am aware that with my focus on African migrants, I cannot speak for films featuring undocumented migrants from other global regions. I am confident, however that many features I find in the films included herein can also be traced in clandestine migration cinema about people of non African backgrounds. Even for films about African clandestine migrants I do not claim to present a comprehensive analysis as there are films I have not included due to language barriers and a desire to keep this analy sis somewhat contained. Following this introduction, c hapter two addresses the formation of imaginations I briefly address the transition from postcolonial migrat ion films to cinema concerned with modern migration moveme nts. C hapter two analyses the narratives, aesthetics, and techniques employed to visualize African imaginations of the North that trigger a desire to secretly cross dangerous borders. This chapter furthermore addresses the
27 reality of border crossings and discuss es how on screen secret border crossings reflect on the obscurity of the journey not on ly in the narrative, but also through filmic aesthetics. The political state of illegality starts at the border, but the trip itself is a journey of invisibility as illustrated by the smuggled wife of an immigrant, dangerous and secret journey across the water from Senegal to Spain, as well as to Italy. This chapter traces the journeys and arrivals and the w ay in which these immigrants initially situate themselves into the context of the host country Chapter three focuses on the different cinematic spaces of undocumented labor, bal scapes. I define and outline the cinematic urban laborscape through comparing spaces and conditions in and under which undocumented African workers act and in which they negotiate their relationship with the workplace, fellow clandestine workers, and middlemen who can move between illegal and legal laborscapes. The creation of clandestine landscapes within the subaltern labor diaspora remains inextricably linked to the imagination of the migrant and its constant revision. Diasporic spaces are only to a certain degree dictated by the limitations imposed on the migrant by the target country's immigration policies. Individual migrants are not passively led through the subaltern diaspora based on the channels that are opened up for them; instead, their imag ination and subsequent determination initiates the negotiation of spaces based on vision and purpose Here I also emphasize the significance of laborscapes in American urban centers as presented by a ccented Nollywood filmmakers. The Nigerian film industry or Nollywood, has clearly become a global phenomenon and films are now distributed into
28 the African diaspora and other places of spectatorship throughout the world. its potential to reach an audience way beyond its native Nigeria while at the same time remaining local in terms of themes and aesthetics In recent years, not only the films themselves, but also their production has become transnational in that Nigerian f ilmmakers have been making films outside of Nigeria. In this section I analyze Nollywood films with regards to the urban laborscapes which their clandestine migrants navigate. Chapter four discusses the cinematic representation, on and off screen, of t he migrants' countries of origin and the representation of the host nation states. As I have mentioned above, t he portrayal of the host nation state often quite obviously reflects on the filmmakers' background as well as the most prevalent national discour se on clandestine immigration in the film's country of production. While many European filmmakers highlight issues of xenophobia and racism in their films, both in the narrative and aesthetically, transnational African filmmakers tend to focus more on the individual's position within the host culture, especially as s/he relates to other immigrants from her/his home country. The characterization of undocumented immigrants ranges from victimization to the representation of global agents who defy the attempts' of Northern nation states to keep them out.
29 CHAPTER 2 IMAGINATIONS, MOBILITY, AND BORDER CROSSINGS From Postcolonial Ties to Globalized Imaginations in a Shifting Migrant Cinema While my general focus is on films made between 1990 and 2009, I would like to take a moment and direct attention to African filmmakers who have addressed the desire of Africa n nationals to emigrate and their inability to do so, as well as the challenges migrants face in exile. By doing so, I acknowledge that clandestine migr ation films are not a recent phenomenon and offer a brief look at filmmakers who have taken on the issue before contemporary labor centered African migration movements even began. The fascination of the North plays out in early African cinema, especially i n the francophone countries of production. Significantly, Paulin Vieyra, who is widely considered to be the first Black African filmmaker, set his first film Paris Sur Seine in Paris itself because the French government forbid filming in Africa (Diawara). 1 The irony is apparent on multiple levels, but most importantly it signifies the complicated colonial he other hand, represents the resistance against the Northern filmmaker whose cinematic subjects consist of Africans. The relationship between the place of production and the space of representation therefore has been especially complicated during the hist ory of African filmmaking and filmmaking about Africa and Africans. Several well known African filmmakers have addressed the desire of African nationals to emigrate, among them Senegalese actor, poet, and director Djibril Diop Mambty. With his 1973 film Touki Bouki ( Senegal), Mambty 1 Vieyra was a graduate of the Institut des Hautes Etudes Cinmatographiques at the time and conceded to make his film about Africans living in Paris.
30 direct attention to neo colo nialist injustice, as well as complacency and political tyranny in post independence African nations. To this day, Touki Bouki receives international praise for its unconventional style and is lauded as the turning point in African cinema in terms of decon structing existing power hierarchies not only within the narrative, b ut through aesthetic techniques such as montage and non linear storytelling (Ukadike ). 2 Touki Bouki follows the journey of a couple, Mory and Anta, through Dakar in pursuit of their dre am of living in Paris. They do not have the money nor the status to legally travel North, so they engage on a series of illegal activities on their way from the to stay behind while Anta embarks on the cruise ship enroute to Paris. The film absent) space (Paris) is to go to P aris, and in this they stand for all disaffected, unemployed Africans who The film furthermore is a very fitting example of how cinema not only represents and thus creates these dreams, but circulates them globally through its own distribution. 2 garde character and infusion with features not commonly associated with African filmmaking at the time. Mambty himself, however, dismisses the concern with aesthetics and discussion of which f ilm traditions might have influenced his work. He considers his films an expression of himself (Ukadike).
31 3 Mambty thus expresses his awareness of his cinema, he does not want to pre scribe the message with which his audience will leave after the film ends (Ukadike). Touki Bouki however, puts a fascinating spin on young dream s of life abroad by complicating the concept of space in the African context. Throughout but absent, which is repeated over and over again. 4 beckoning the chara [the] figuring of exile as an ironic loop, a one way conversation, a vicious circle: it comes back at one, allowing circular or vertical movement, Th through music and a postcolonial history that remains localized and does not suggest any possibility of being a genuine destination for the two. 5 Touki Bouki represents the d esire to migrate as the result of the postcolonial condition in which France has left its imprint on the former colony. Although Anta in the end makes it onto the cruise ship towards Paris, the film remains localized by emphasizing her travels from the per iphery of Dakar to the harbor and ending with Mory who staying behind. Furthermore, the film 3 in the next chapter. 4 American actress and her identification with African stereotypes to benefit from th e exoticization of her person to further her career. 5 While we know that Anta is on the cruise ship headed to Paris, we never get a sense of the actual geographical space (and neither does she as far as we know).
32 remain intact throughout the film (Ukadike 173). through a Europeanized Dakar towards the promised land, which in the end remains obscure because we do not actually get to see it, remains fragmented and infused with images of animal slaughter and death. The closest the film comes to actually visualizing Paris is the European part of Dakar and cars, and most importantly the cruise ship that Anta finally boards and from which Mory flees in the end. Through the localiz ed visualization of what it takes to reach the elusive and seductive land of the former colonizer, Mambty highlights the postcolonial concern of West African nations: dream of finding some so Mambty qtd. in Grayson 136). The space Dakar stands in for both the African space and the French space and represents the troubled history that has played out here. Mambty consciously and openly presents a commentary on the pos tcolonial reality in the form of presenting the geographic space that remains obscure and unreachable. The shift of African postcolonial migration associated with contemporary migration in a neocolonial presence rather than a postcolonial history is also r eflected in contemporary migration films that are more concerned with a contemporary economic world order as the trigger of imaginations rather than a colonial past. While Touki Bouki certainly problematizes the allure of France (and by association the Wes t), the implications of this allure are situated within the postcolonial condition in Senegal rather than transcontinental border crossings themselves. La
33 Noire d e ( Black Girl, France/Senegal), which is set in both Senegal and France, deep into the fabric of Senegalese society. In the film, the Senegalese nanny Douanna works for a French couple in Dakar. After Senegal regains independen employers decide to return to France. They ask Douanna to join them in France and she is elated, dreami ng of a wonderful life in the prosperous North However, her reality becomes a small apartment which she hardly ever leaves and a tension f illed relationship with her employers. In a moment of resistance, Douanna rejects her subservient role by killing herself. In La Noire d e the postcolonial condition and resulting relationship between the French employers and the Senegalese Nanny Do uanna supercede the significance of the actual transnational migration experience. her realization of a glum reality in France, but the film de emphasizes the transitional space between the two locations. Although there clearly has been a shift from postcolonial African films about the allure of the former colony to contemporary productions about North bound migration, some similarities remain. What these films have in com mon is their treatment of the imagination that triggers the desire to cross borders. Postcolonial imaginations might be based on different historical immediacies, but after all the pull of the global North remains intact, albeit within different global and social realities. In more recent cinema of unauthorized migration, filmmakers represent the migration experience as the result of imaginations born out of globally circulating images and contemporary realities of unequal global mobility. This is especiall y relevant in the context of African migration
34 because the limited mobility of African citizens mirrors to some extent the replacement of African nationals during the Atlantic slave trade, at least in terms of who controls movement. The circulation of earl ier African films about migration, such as the aforementioned Touki Bouki and La Noire de was, and to some degree still is, tied to the complex relationship between Senegalese filmmakers and Western financiers and distributors. Moreover, the destinat ion France (or Paris) has not been selected based on a geographical preference, but rather the infusion of the homeland with a colonial past and postcolonial present in which France, even after independence, constitutes a desirable space. In this sense the filmmakers suggest that colonization left behind a legacy in which the minds remain colonized by France as long as it lingers in the imagination as destination worth leaving family and home for. However, in contemporary cinema, the destination is not so m uch selected based on an ideoscape of historical power relations. Rather, the selection of a host nation state depends on whether it is reachable through clandestine travel and whether it offers opportunity. In the early days of African cinema, filmmakers were faced with the task of representing African issues from their point of view after a plethora of films made by Westerners about Africans. Cinema became a way for Africans to tell their own stories rather than allowing the stories that were told about them to stand unchallenged. In fact, Mambety (sic) believed that the role of the filmmaker was that of a griot visionary and the creator of the 136) In the Belgian film nulle part ( Names Live Nowhere Belgium, 1995), directed by Dominique Loreau, a griot, performed by Burkinab griot Sotigui Kouyat, travels between the Senegal and
35 France to tell the stories of people who have fol lowed the beckoning call of Northern prosperity. 6 The griot follows two Senegalese migrants to Brussels and visits their families in the Senegalese village to tell their story, thus serving as the connector between the two countries in the context of the contemporary Senegalese expatriates in Brussels who send news, letters, and gifts home, and of others who disappear without a t race. Letters, remittances, and news of opportunity create the migration desires of those left behind as they shape, once again, the collective imagination of a prosperous and accessible North (accessible because people they know have made it there). The Senegalese village and the urban landscape of Brussels, it follows two Senegalese men who liv e in Brussels and find themselves alienated from both their home and their host culture The traveling griot who delivers the messages back and forth refers to himself e. He therefore bridges the gap that otherwise leaves room for flawed news and exaggerated reports of the prosperous new life in the diaspora. But this film also highlights how absence of news and the lack of letters or other forms of correspondence and c ontact to bridge the gap of absence and distance also create imaginations. Someone who disappears is rather assumed successful than dead although in the case 6 Kouyat was born in Mali, but grew up in Burkina Faso, which is why some sources refer to him as
36 of a migrant dying while crossing the sea, it is highly likely that his/her family would never kno w as a result of his official non existence. Sotigui Kouyat comes from a family line of griots, but he also established a remarkable career as an actor. Shortly before his death at age 74 on April 17 th 2010, Kouyat was awarded a Silve r Bear for best actor at the Berlin Film Festival for his performance in the 2009 film London River by French Algerian director Rachid Bouchareb (BBC News). He was also the subject of Mahamat documentary Sotigui Kouyate: A Modern Griot (Chad /France, 1996). Not only background, but also his work transcended borders and continents and one of his main concerns was the productive communication between Africa and the North. In 1997, France was deporting charter plane loads of Malian and Se he founded the Mandeka theatre in Mali ( Kouyat quoted in Guttman 50) His reasons reflect on his concern about the desire of African youth to migrate and the lack of opportunity in the North: While [de portations were] happening, actors in Bamako were still asking me how they could come to France, as if they were blind to how immigrants were being do what I could by finding them jobs, courses or training. This is what I had in mind when I founded the Mandeka sto pping young people from fleeing, helping them to win respect through having a job and showing people what they could do. ( Kouyat quoted in Guttman 50 51) The establishment of a theatre to counteract the desire to leave the country and its influence on th e social fabric in Malian Bamako through an emphasis on local creativity furthermore manifests the role of the griot as visionary and changer of the future.
37 chan nel of communication between the two spaces of the global South and North. Through selecting him as his film griot, director Loreau both acknowledges and addresses the lack of meaningful exchange between Africa and Europe in terms of economy, culture, soci al realities, and of course migration. Furthermore, by situating the griot in the location of Brussels, Loreau allows for a traveler who is not blinded by stereotypes and able to carry back the messages into the South that otherwise never get out or get di storted along the way. With the inclusion of a real life griot, rather than letting an actor perform the part, Loreau furthermore acknowledges her limited access to the cultural context of her film. By doing so and leaving the voice of the film to the layered film which transcends not only transnational phenomenon. The Transitional Desert Space by the Sea By weaving the gr iot into her narrative, Loreau addresses the challenge of movement and mobility, both for people and for ideas and perceptions. Clandestine migration is characterized by the inability of a person to move across borders and this creates a third space in add most secret part of the clandestine migrant experience remains the journey itself, during which transitional spaces are created and recreated. One filmmaker whose work addresses the signficance o f transitional spaces also reflects the shift of the transcontinental African migration paradigm in cinema is Malian director Abderrahmane Sissako. Born in Mauritania in 1961, raised in Mali, educated in filmmaking in the former
38 Soviet Union, and now settl filmmaker who I am not a whole entity as such. I am a multiple. And this multiplicity is fragility. However this fragility becomes nearl y a lightness. So I surf over things perhaps with more ease. By that I mean that I am not someone who is saddened by exile. I am not a victim. It is a If Sissako considers his own multiplicity both fragile and light, he has expertly i nfused this sense into his 2002 film Heremakono: En attendant de bonheur (Heremakono: Waiting for Happiness, France/Mauritania ) Set in the desert right by the sea, presumably near the border between Mauritania and Western Sahara, the film conveys a sense of contrast that is geographically rare and aesthetically mesmerizing, especially in a film about people waiting for happiness and the association of this happiness with mobility. 7 the trajectory of those living in one place, be it Europe or Africa, but (mentally) inhabiting an imaginary In Heremakono Sissako recreates multiple layers of mobility and migration through a multiplicity of characters. After a prolonged absence, protagonist A bdallah visits his hometown while on his way abroad. He stays with his mother and spends much of his time watching the street from a street level window. Throughout the film, them are electrician Maata and his boy apprentice Khatra, a mother who teaches her daughter traditional songs, Chinese expatriate Tchu who sings sad and beautiful Chinese songs about exile to a woman at the local karaoke bar and sells trinkets on the 7 Nouadhibou, but the film itself does not reveal this.
39 stre ets, men who prepare for sea travel to the North, a woman who went to Paris to majority of the film revolves around the longings of people, for love, travel, a home, and characters will travel. Abdallah unsuccessfully tries to cross a dune, Kathra fails to get on a train to leave the town after Maata dies, but then boldly walks into the desert i nstead. An immigrant who had prepared for the journey to the North is found dead at the beach. Heremakono moves back and forth between the characters and follows their interactions while there is no r eal plotline and the timeline remains ambiguous througho ut At one point we are told that two weeks have passed, but from what we can see on the screen, everything could happen on the same day. ma kes the dreams and desires appear timeless. The film opens with sand and tumbleweed blowing in the desert wind, which gives us a sense of the beautiful, but inhospitable environment. The sand is very white and the sea is very blue and apart from the colorf ul garments worn by the townspeople, of the landscape and earthiness of the colors paint an aesthetically minimalist picture which coincides with the seemingly minimalist l ives of the town people. Moreover, Sissako emphasizes the isolation through his consistent focus on the sea, the vast desert space, and the seemingly unconquerable dunes. Just as much as it is a space through which people pass on their way elsewhere, it is a place in which the same people get trapped and have to wait for the next chance to move on. The sometimes
40 overly slow pace of Heremakono underscores the challenge of waiting for new opportunities and the almost constant diegetic sound of the wind convey s, despite all slowness, a sense of urgency through which people muster the courage and money to embark on journeys to largely unknown destinations. Sissako has described the setting of his film as a space through which people move from one place to the ne xt, or a place of transit. (quoted in Smith). Heremakono complicates border crossings further by including an intercontinental border. T ranscontinental migration narratives often focus on the move between continents, but rarely include the border crossings within the African continent. The inclusion of a desert border post in Heremakono points to the often neglected internal border crossin continental contact a multi layered transition betw failures. The desert sand stands in stark contrast to the vastness of the sea and emphasizes the reality of making a living in this challenging global space while pointing at what seem s to be the only way out of West Africa, the crossing of a treacherous desert or a seemingly
41 ships on the ocean horizon evoke far Dovey argues that th e smothering Saharan sand is an apt visual metaphor for the way in which the villagers are sinking in ennui, waiting for 63). Dovey fails to not ice, however, that the film includes characters who carry on plenty of purposeful activity and social interaction. Sissako seems careful to infuse an appreciation of the local through positive and inspired social interactions and character who seem conten t in this space. townspeople whose lives are rooted here. This further suggests that exile does not begin with the journey itself, but starts before departure. In ever present even if the locale never changes except for very brief flashback scenes. s most clearly represented through the character Abdallah whose stay in his hometown constitutes a stop over on his way to the North. He remains distant from the people around him, continues to wear Western clothes, and can only communicate in French beca use he apparently has forgotten his native Hassanya (or has never learned it) He stays inside to watch the street scenery through a window with a shape and size reminiscent of a television set, which puts him in the position of the spectator rather than a member of the community. In one scene he watches a village girl play music while standing half hidden behind a piece of clothes hanging from the wash line as if watching her on a stage of sorts. Similarly, he watches a French game show on television and s eems
42 equally removed from the on goings on screen, signifying that he remains equally distanced from the space to which he desires to travel. in individual frames, but also through his direct encounters with people. In one scene, electrician apprentice Kathra tries to teach him Hassanya, but Abdallah fails to correctly pronounce the words, which signifies that his internal change is beyond recollection of what he has just for member the words already represents his alienation from the community, but his failure at correctly pronouncing the words signifies the permanent loss of familiarity that he once shared with his community through language. The natural ability to pronounce once native language is lost to Abdallah and while words can be re memorized, native pronounciation remains lost forever. Instead of communicating with the townspeople, including his own mother, in Hassanya, Abdallah must rely on French as the language of communication. Hi s former past and future remain unknown and we only witness his awkward and painfully self conscious navigation of his hom etown. His isolation never subsides and the film absence from the town that causes his marginalized and alienated position and lack of ability to connect with people, bu t rather the future travel that removes him from his immediate surroundings. Throughout the film Abdallah remains in the limbo state caught between the transitional space that is no longer his own and the mysterious and absent place in the North. When it i s time for him to leave his hometown and continue his journey into the
43 North, the taxi in which he had arrived earlier in the film leaves without him. Instead of continuing his trip by car, Abdallah tries to climb one of the dunes that form the desert barr ier surrounding the town, which symbolically remains his only path towards the North. The camera focuses on his dress shoes which not only seem out of place, but also highly impractical, emphasized by the easy climb by a stranger wearing the local sandals. 8 For all the viewer knows in the end, Abdallah still struggles to overcome the dune and remains trapped in desert purgatory between the North and the South then its rootless characters are not unli ke ghosts suffocated by their geographic not I understand clearly constitutes for Abdallah. At any stage, even before exile itself, clandestine mig ration positions the individual in an in between state, which Sissako represents by putting Abdallah into his hometown he is alienated from, but also by never revealing where he will go and by aesthetically emphasizing the peculiarity of this geographical location where desert and sea meet. Sissako carefully places the theme of migration throughout the film, but only once does he leave the Mauritanian setting. Through the character Nana, a town resident whom Abdallah meets and who tells him her story, the film incorporates another story of North bound migration. When Abdallah meets her, Nana makes a living through meeting men and entering relationships. She tells Abdallah that i n a former life, she had a daughter with a lover, Vincent, who left to go to Par 8 For a n interesting discussion about the relevance of footwear in Heremakono see Dovey, Lindiwe of exile: Alienation in Francophone West African International Journal of Francophone Studies 12.1 (2009): 55 75.
44 daughter died and Nana traveled to Paris to inform Vincent. In Paris, Vincent made it clear that Vincent did not want her there and she is forced to return to Mauritania where she meets men and functions as an escort of sorts. voiceover and flashback scenes. When Nana begins telling her story, the camera captures a very blue sky with a few white clouds as if to emphasize the vividness of colors in this African space. In voiceover, Nana co ntinues to say that upon the death of her daughter, she traveled to experi ence in Paris and the scene cuts to a Parisian grey urban setting where we see her walking along a fence. The picture quality is now grainy and the editing choppy, as opposed to the drawn out long shots in the Africa space. The contrast between the vivid and bright colors of the film so far and the dreary grayness of Paris is profound and emphasizes the distinction between the African and the French setting in terms of aesthetics. In recreating the Northern space as grey, gritty, and undesirable, Sissako c 9 In the flashback scene, Nana stops at the fence and looks down onto the train tracks through a fence as her voice scene cuts back to the very blue African sky in which steam is now rising from a train her arrival in Perpignan in Southern France from where Vincent picked her up to take her to Paris. Her route suggests that she crossed the water to get there, but we never 9 As I will show in the following, many clandestine migration films visually recreate the host space as undesirable.
45 know for sure. interior shot of what appears to be a Parisian hotel room. The walls and the door are grayish and dirty and a dress hangs b eside the door. Nana lies on the bed with food in front of her, smoking a cigarette and looking solemn. In a close up shot appears and takes the cigarette from her as her voice fr om her voice over that Vincent set her up in the hotel room and paid for it for a week. He sits on the bed, his head cut off by the frame, with face to face is nullifie d by the invisibility of this face and the silence between the two. distinct separation between the former lovers and parents It is obvious that t he death of their chil d cannot recreate their former relationship. At the end of this sequence, Nana again walks along the fence and looks down onto the train tracks. After a few seconds, the scene cuts ba ck to the desert setting where men, wa lks along the water on the bright white beach singing what could be one of the The two settings and two lovers express transitional space by the sea. She has been to France, but the trip left her abandoned by Vincent who was the only connection to her dead daughter, but also as far as we know, the only connection to the exilic space. Ab dallah watches when Nana is introduced to a stranger and agrees to have tea with him. The exchange takes place
46 remains a mystery to him just as it does to us. We know tha t she has been to Paris more than once, but we never learn about the other time or times. The obscurity around Nana seems emblematic of this transitional space in which people come and go and where exile is so ever present that no real roots can form as lo ng as the characters long to go elsewhere. The only characters who do not seem out of place are the ones, like place by wearing traditional clothing, making music, and having steady employment. 10 Heremakono presents one character who navigates the space freely. Kathra initially wears traditional clothing, but dreams of owning a blue overall, which is both a symbol of his prof ession and of Western traditional and modern, old and young, personifies the necessity of roots in one place in order to bring about change and in order to move on to an other. This uprootedness that sand, tumbleweeds, and the loss of a radio that Maaka, a local man, buried in the sand. Radios commonly appear in migration films as a connec ting device between two spaces. The loss of the radio in the desert sand therefore signifies the non existent global exchange reinforcing imaginations. The significance of the radio comes full circle in the end when Kathra finds the radio and consequently comes into possession of the device that most of all represents communication across distance. Throughout the film, Kathra connects with people, among them migrant Abdallah. During a significant moment, Kathra teaches Abdallah Hassanya words. While doing s o, Abdallah is in the 10 because a profession ro ots the characters.
47 room at the window while Khatra is half outside and half inside the room. The window is consistently presented as a divider between Abdallah, the observer and the townspeople, but Kathra is able to bridge the divide. As another signif ier of the migration narrative, Sissako uses Paris as the default stand in for North named Michael, pose in front a wall painting of the Eiffel tower. The picture, to them, represents a salute to their upcoming travels across the water into the North. Two water, pondering where Michael could be at this time, whether he is in Tangier or already in Spain. Several sce nes later, a bloated body lies on the sand and Maaka watches as police officers take pictures and search the body. At first we see the body in close up, but a subsequent long shot once again reinforces the contrast between the blue sea with the white beach and the out of place ugliness of a dead body. The long shot also reveals that a boat is anchored in the distance, as if to mock the migrant who tries to reach what it represents. The body search reveals the photographs of Michael in front of the painted E iffel tower. Maaka is questioned by the police, but tells them that he does not know who the dead man is. He further tells the officers that it is the only becomes obviou s when the officers ask him about the water jugs in the corner. 11 Maaka painstakingly explains for what each one is used and how long they last. His elaborate explanation seems random and out of place, but it serves to emphasize the disconnect 11 The encounter between the Arabic officers and Maaka further emphasizes that the town has been a transitional space and contact zone between North and Subsaharan Africa for a long time. This adds yet rn with multi layered contact zones.
48 between the o fficial side of this space, the police, and the local people and the prospective migrants for whom the space is a starting point on their clandestine journey. The Mediterranean, as well as the Atlantic Ocean off the West African coast, have become emblemat ic of clandestine migration and also play a significant role in migration cinema. 12 Throughout the film, whenever the camera is directed at the sea, gathered by the sea. Tchu hands out presents for the departing. The scene cuts to the sea where in the distance we see a large ship. Far in the distance, the ship seems out cross the w ater. The positioning of the large ship at the horizon and the small boat in the foreground suggests a demarcating line between the two that seems impossible to cross: Clandestine immigrants, cruising tourists, armed forces, fishermen, sailors, submarine and rig engineers, cross the Mediterranean waters every day without communicating and often without even noticing each other, regimented in their own identities and constricted within their predetermined route. This constriction of routes and subsequent alienation in the sea travel space is especially important for clandestine migrants whose arrival depends on their invisibility amidst the other sea traveler. Just like places of transitions and travel such as airplanes (and airspace), hote ls, train stations, and others, boats and ships can be non spaces in which identities remain veiled under the cloak of a limbo space that denotes transit and therefore rootlessness (even if temporary). 13 12 The 2009 film Sin Nombre ( Without Name Mexico/USA) by Cary Fukunaga includes a cathartic scene involving the crossing of the Rio Grande. A film emphasizing the journey across the Caribbean is the 2005 Spanish produ ction 90 Millas by Francisco Rodrguez Gordillo. 13 For a more detailed discussion of non places, see chapter 3.
49 The separateness of large ships and fishing boats do es not allow for meeting points that take place "when the paths of these travelers accidentally intersect, when a short circuit in the Solid Sea connects different cultures and identities and puts different sea depths in contact with one another These dramatic effects seldom work in the favor of clandestine immigrants because they are preceded by detection. Interestingly, in a later part of the film, and after we have witnessed several migration stories gone wrong, Sissako reverses the w ay he juxtapositions the ships and fishing boats. When the ships reappear, they seem decrepit and abandoned, suggesting that the formerly desirable destination has become a place of death and abandonment. At the end of the film, after we have learned of Mi on the horizon have ended up on the beach as wrecks, reminiscent of the bloated body that was found in the same location earlier. Moreover, this is the only time that we see the beach from the sea. This perspecti ve reveals the actual, pitiful condition of the ships which cannot be made out from a distance. As symbols of the North, the ships now illustrate neglect alienation and displacement. Heremakono paints a complex picture of mobility, border crossings, a nd a form of exile that already exists internally, but never truly becomes a geographical space (at least not permanently). Most importantly, Sissako succeeds in recreating the concept of exile as a state that is as much determined by the destination, even if the journey has result of a rootlessness which is grounded in both his current in between state and location and his desire to leave. His only true connection to hi s hometown is his mother, otherwise he remains a stranger. The film emphasizes the human side of imagining and
50 waiting on the one side, and purposefully creating a home space on the other. Abdallah might be lost and alienated in his hometown, but he meets people who seem to belong. With Khatra, Heremakono even offers the possibility of a successful transition into a space beyond the dunes and the sea. After independence and in an attempt to correct colonial imaginations of backward and primitive Africans, postcolonial African filmmakers have created remarkable films in which they expose the North as alienating, corrupt, and exclusive. Africans themselves correct the way th e North has imagined them. Heremakono combines the fascinating geographical particularities of the West African coast with a migration narrative that situates itself at the crossroad between the postcolonial narratives brought forth by Mambty and Sembne and the stories and realities of contemporary subaltern migration m use of techniques that Naficy attributes to accented filmmakers, such as non linear storytelling, timelessness in a transitional space, and a multi plicity o f border crossings, both internal and external, emphasize that exile is a state of multiplicity in which the migrant is pulled into many directions, none of which allows for genuine roots. In addition Heremakono explicitly evokes images that appear and r eappear in narratives of clandestine migration, such as characters waiting for the opportunity to migrate, and the dead body on the beach. As an accented filmmaker, Sissako therefore not only evokes migration tropes, but significantly incorporates markers of cinematic clandestine migration that, as I will show in the following, consistently appear in similarly themed films
51 Into the Subaltern Diaspora: Cinematic Border Crossings The significance of the sea as both escape route and death trap that Sissako r ecreated in Heremakono also appears in Waalo Fendo L o la terre gle ( Waalo Fendo Where the Earth freezes Switzerland) identity, bu (Naficy 34 ) In the case of Sissako and Soudani, both of whom are accented filmmakers now based in France and Switzerland, respectively, personal exilic journeys made their way into the films through their specific treatment of space and place. Like Sissako did with Heremakono Soudani recreated migration narratives that are both emblematic for accented cinema, but also include features that consistently appear in clandestine mig ration cinema. Mohammed Soudani was born in El Asnam in Algeria in 1949 and immigrated to Switzerland in 1972. He has made a number of films both as director and cinematographer many of which are concerned with the relationship between Africa and Europe. Among these films are Guerre sans images (2002) a documentary about contemporary Algeria Roulette (2007) about the friendship between a Swiss citizen and an Albanian asylum seeker, and the 2009 film Taxiphone about a young Swiss couple whose car breaks down as they travel through the Sahara desert. In Waalo Fendo Soudani portrays the immigrant experience of undocumented Senegalese workers in both Senegal and Italy The circumstances of production reflect on the multicultural background of the filmmaker in that it involves both Swiss Amka Films as well the Ivory
52 Coast based station Television Ivorienne. In 1998, Soudani was awarded the Swiss Film Prize for Waalo Fendo Waalo Fendo tells the story of Demba who leaves his Senegalese village to follow his o lder brother Yaro to Italy to help him earn more money in the Sicilian tomato harvest. T he narrative moves back and forth between the Senegalese village and Italy where Demba and Yaro sell bags, necklaces, lighters, and similar items. 14 The brothers work as harvest laborers and street vendors until Yaro accidentally gets killed in a drug related shooting. Demba tells their story in retrospect, beginning and ending with his consciously edited to be uneven and fragmented and t he viewer is forced to put the pieces together, which signifies the fragmentation of globally circulating images that form distorted imaginations. Waalo Fendo begins with a long shot of a distant shoreline visible only as a string of lights in the darkness as if to suggest a far off place of opportunity (similar to the lights on the ships in Heremakono ) After a few seconds, the scene cuts to a pair of hands in close up, holding necklaces and following a brief conversation in Wolof between Yaro and another street vendor, we see the characters driving in a car. During a stop at a gas station, Yaro gets shot by someone from a passing car. At this point music sets in for the first time and as the opening credits appear, we see an overhead shot what appears to b e a six lane highway crowded with cars moving in the darkness. As the music fades, the sequence cuts to a low angle shot looking up a tree, which turns out to be the perspective of a young boy lying underneath the tree. The juxtaposition of the extremely c rowded 14 For an insightful discussion of Senegalese street selling in Italy as part of a transnational migrant a Trade Diaspora. Senegalese Transnational Experienc es in Emilia New African Diasporas Ed. Khalid Koser. New York: Routledge, 2003.
53 hig hway lanes and the tranquil image of the tree and the boy, who we now see getting up and washing off in the river in a rural landscape, early on emphasizes the dichotomy that Waalo Fendo recreates throughout between the spaces Senegal and Italy in terms of mutual perception and imagination. Waalo Fendo (Senegal and Italy, city and country), different narrators and different perspective s and handheld camera s constitute the styli stic devices that Naficy attributes to accented cinema. Especially the juxtaposition of different narrators who report directly to the private story of an individual and a social and public story of ex (Naficy). Demba initially narrates the events in voiceover and begins by saying that he in the south who go to Eur ope to work w ith the hope that in Europe, they will e arn a fortune in a short time. During moves through a rural village like a spectator who walks among the people and observes their behavior We witness women pounding food with mortar and pestle, a woman with her baby on her back carries a bucket past mud huts to the well, which is surrounded by ot her women, and a young boy tending to a goat. T he shaky came ra and amateurish picture quality sets the village scenes apart from the rest of the film They appear as if an outside spectator records traditional village life, but the indifference of the people who are being recorded suggest that the footage is record ed by a villager. Through its
54 a point of separating the two locations as one space of stagnation in which opportunities outside of the traditional ways are rare, and a nother space of opportunity and progress However, a sudden cut to two men waiting at what appears to be a train station in Italy presents another contrast. The busy village scene with its vivid colors and purposeful activity is replaced by the reality of migration, which involves waiting and dependence, as well the familiar symbols of tran sit, such as trucks and trains that we have already seen in Heremakono Waalo Fendo however, expands the waiting trope by applying it to both the home setting and life in the diaspora. The wait for opportunity characterizes the preparation for life in the diaspora and that life itself because the undocumented characters have very limited access to the means necessary to travel abroad and build a life there. In Waalo Fen do the prosperous North and abject South. When Yaro writes his mothers and asks for Demba to join him in Italy for the tomato harvest to be able to raise more money, the village elders discuss brother, should come to Milan to work. Demba shall go, but we need money. Who else The village community makes arrangements for the journey to Dakar in the h ope to offset poverty by sending men abroad to work. The elders discuss the failure of the authorities to build a well and the consequential death of the animals and threat to the harvest. While they lament the loss of young men who go abroad, one of them In the context of illegal migration, the imagination of opportunity pairs up with an imgination of successful journeys Demba considers Yaro and his friend Theo lucky for
55 be ing able to cross the Italian border and their success fuels his determination to attempt the same journey. The film, however, intercuts successful entry into the North with actual news footage showing border patrols waiting at the shore at night, a boat loaded with people racing through the water followed by a bright light to indicate its detection. People go ashore, are searched by border patrol and marked. A man sits down with his head in his hands, to then look back at the em pty boat on the beach. This is followed by footage of strewn luggage in the sand and in the water, again followed by a sudden cut to several men in uniform with batons and shields beating African immigrants. Extremely sinister and threatening music undersc ores this grainy and choppy montage of news footage. As the camera cuts back to Demba who describes how lucky Yaro and Demba were when crossing the border, we get the sense that Demba does not himself have access to the footage, which once again underscore s the barrier between imagination and reality. In the last, and perhaps most disturbing scene in its resemblance to the assembly of slaves before the Middle Passage men walk in a straight line, probably to be deported. The reference to slavery reinforces the similarities of mobility constriction in the different African diasporas. While slaves were captured and forced to leave one space to enter another, the undocumented African immigrant in the modern subaltern diaspora attempts to leave one space, but i s denied access to the next. Moreover, as the slavery reference in the film suggests, once the undocumented immigrant is discovered, s/he loses control over his/her mobility entirely. In both cases, the ability to navigate between global spaces and across the demarcation line between North and South is entirely controlled by the North.
56 landscape to Dakar. Shortly after he arrives at the train station and has met the man who will take him es the significance of the West African coast as a starting point for the water crossing, similar to the significance of the port city in Heremakono Shortly after Demba is told that he cannot leave rig ht away, the film cuts to a boat full of travelers and then to fishing boats on the water and the activity along the shore of the city. A local musician underscores the lot respect for the emigrants and the potential of their journey to bring back knowledge. This, however, stands in contrast to the experience of Yaro who gets killed in the diaspora and never returns. As in Heremakono characters in Waalo Fe ndo never truly arrive anywhere because they can never take root. All three films I have discussed so far in so me form emphasize the trope of the disappearing subaltern migrant. As Demba is waiting, a local fisherman tells us, as if interviewed for the film, that fishing has become difficult. fish are immig rating (sic). 15 T he film thus openly criticizes the Western influence on the African local that does not only pull away the young people through creating alluring images of opportuntiy but also creates the reason they have to emigrate through the destruc tion of their local infrastructure. T he relationship between Senegal and the former colonizer France, which has been so predominant in earlier films set in Senegal, 15
57 appears nowhere in Waalo Fendo. Instead, imaginations of the global North are not based o n preconceptions or imagination of particular nation states, but on a collective imagination of a space of opportunity and are linked to economy rather than political or national entity. Interestingly, Soudani makes a clear effort to recreate the African space screen voice informs us that he is now ready to leave, a panning shot captures the Dakar harbor. Upon his actual departure, we get to see a beautiful Dakar shoreline from Demba's perspective who is now on a small boat headed to Italy. on the network (Yaro is already there) and on the question of how difficult it is to cross the border rather than a concrete imagination of the country itself. Before Demba leaves the village to follow his brother Yaro to Italy, a man gives him a letter: is son. For him Waalo Fendo is like a bi g ma This collective imagination is fed by circulating symbols of Western prosperity. These can be letters When we write to our families the illusion is meant to maintain the collective imagination in the home country, but also takes the migrant hostage because s/he cannot return before s/he has reaped the benefits of the respectiv
58 The fare for the boat trip from Dakar to Italy is provided by Yaro who sent the money to a merchant in Dakar This collaborative effort represents the complex global networks in which diasporic pockets connect to move not only goods and money, but also people and labor. Remittances do not only assist in the survival of the village, but maintain the movement of laborers and therefore keep the network alive the Senegalese men who migrate out of Senegal to Italy are the seeds through which the global South attempts to spread itself in the North. T he community imagines that through sending the men, money and goods will go ba Yaro in Italy it has become possible to keep up the flow of remittances and using this connection for further labor exchange. 16 This community sentiment also emphasizes the importance of media flows (in this case through let ters, but also through storyteller Demba) that create imaginations, for example of the opportunity to participate in Northern prosperity for the survival of the community. This imagination is also informed by the laborscape, the global flow of local labore rs represented by Yaro and again ve action as well as the collective expectation (as another form of imagination), the migrant might become physically detached from his home locale, but remains attached to the global economic divide through the duty of supporting the community. 16 The signifi the labor that the p rotagonists perform abroad (see chapter 3 ).
59 In the c ase of Demba, and in many African migrants, looking for opportunity is the consequence of local agency and action rather than just an individual attempt of planning the j ourney, the migrant remains tightly connected with the home community even in the diaspora ( if not directly, then in the collective imagination of his duty to the village ) The duty towards the village and sense of responsibility follows the migrant into e 85). This is especiall y important because the lack of communication between the two spaces with regards to the difficult circumstances of living abroad does not allow for the collective imagination to change. If such young men. Isabel Santaollala describes Las Cartas de Alou ( Letters from Alou, Spain 19 90) by award winning Basque filmmaker Montxo Armendriz. as following road movie conventions to narrate the odyssey of a Senegalese young man on a journey from (4) while Tabea Linhard firmly situates Las Cartas de Alou in the tradition of Spanish realist cinema. The film was made at a time during which Spanish cinema frequently reflections on and criticism of right wing violence Furthermore, although Armendriz as an icon of contemporary Spanish filmmaking does not technically make him an accented filmmaker, his Basque identity does seem to place him into an exile of sorts,
60 landestine journey from Senegal into and through Spain in search of employment. After crossing the Mediterranean in a small boat with other undocumented immigrants, Alou arrives in Spain and searches for work He works on cucumber and pear farms, in a swea tshop, and as a scrap metal collector. During his endeavors he meets Carmen, the daughter of a local bar owner and they begin a relationship against the will of her father. Alou becomes increasingly frustrated with the uncertainty and racism he experiences in Spain, especially after the accidental death of his friend with whom he lived in an almost empty and unheated apartment He unsuccessfully tries to obtain legal status, but eventually gets arrested during a routine identity check. Along with other cla ndestines, Alou is flown back to Senegal. In the last scene of the film, Alou is back at the beach to once again get into a boat and make his way back to Spain (whether he arrives there or not is not revealed). Las Cartas de Alou features the same trope of clandestine sea travel we have seen in Heremakono and Waalo Fendo The film begins with an overhead short of dark calm water. After of few seconds of diegetic sound, a flute begins to play until a boat appears, at which point the music stops and all we can hear is the sound of the water. The flute music is somber at first, but as more instruments join in, the music becomes more cheerful; however, an underlying menacing sound remains which does not allow for the otherwise enjoyable music to have a truly c heerful effect. The ambiguity of the music along with the images of a calm but dark sea points to the ambiguity of the immigration experience and suggests the ever present mix of opportunity and danger. When the music stops upon the arrival of what appears to be a comm ercial fishing boat
61 the films seems to turn away from the emotional side of the migrant experience and instead emphasizes the stark realism of wide open water that needs to be crossed. As the scene cuts to the deck of the boat, men prepare to launch what appears to be a small inflatable rescue boat with a motor. The mood is hectic as one of the men rushes down a ladder and opens a door to hurry another group of men to the deck of the boat. At this point begins the voiceover of Alou reading his letter to a friend in which where they became stands vis vis the darkness of the night from which the m igrants enter a small boat. As the camera points down onto the rescue boat, the sea seems calm. However, as soon as Alou has entered the boat, the sea is no longer calm and at this point his narration stops, suggesting that the imagination of the country o f opportunity is now infused with the real physical danger of the trip across the Mediterranean Sea. The boat departs and immediately the passengers are drenched in sea water. As the sea conditions become increasingly rough, one of the men falls overboard and despite protest, the smuggler does not stop the boat and the last we get to see of the man is a bag floating on the water. The man vanishes from sight immediately not only in the eyes of the onlookers in the boat. The boat arrives at the beach at dawn and the men hurry away from the beach. The film then cuts to a tent where Alou is drying his clothes. Crossing the Mediterranean at night serves the purpose of avoiding coast y of this limbo space the emigrants find themselves in. The boat becomes part of the obscure invisible as it crosses the water in the dark with people who officially cease to exist once
62 they leave their home country (because their identity is linked to pap ers that will not grant entrance into the target country). The true danger, however, poses the crossing of the Mediterranean Sea, this dangerous physical borde r to land on the shores of Spain The arrival on the beach contrasts the darkness and obscurity of the boat trip in rough water at night with the sunrise and the calm sea. However, when the men leave the boat and run towards the protection of the dunes away from the empty beach, the screen becomes darker again. The golden colors of the rising sun on ly appear right when the boat reaches the the beach, however, they head towards the obscurity of an undocumented existence, represented by the lack of light on thei r way away from the beach and into Spain. However, Las Cartas de Alou paints a surprisingly hopeful picture of border crossings. Not only is the man who fell overboard alive and well as it turns out Alou also meets him again unexpectedly. But although Arm endriz does not tie his protagonist to the representations of immigration in Spain [cannot] e While Cartas de Alou obscurity of the imagined, but ultimately unknown, Waalo Fendo paints a more ambiguous picture. The protagonists of both films arrive safely in Spain and Italy, respec tively, but only Cartas de Alou allows the imagination of a possible safe arrival to survive deportation from Spain, which further upholds this imagination. In contrast to the first
63 journey which takes place at night, across sparkling water and with the company of a friend. Waalo Fendo does not allow the safe arrival of its protagonist to uphold the imagination of easy border crossin gs, insertion of pictures of arrested immigrants and shipwrecked objects present an alternative outcome, but the choice of using actual news footage blurs boundaries of w hat is fictional and what is not Moreover, both Waalo Fendo and Cartas de Alou subvert the common appearance of luggage in accented cinema by tying it to the danger and loss of clandestine migration experience. mbol of s in its transitional and temporary use. In many clandestine migrant films, including Waalo Fendo and Las Cartas de Alou however, the suitcase becomes a symbol of death through images of abandoned suitcases and bags on beaches and in waters. Naficy attrib utes to the suitcase provisionality, improvisation, and displacement, all of which, he argues, may 262). For clandestine migration cinema, however, suitcases often represent the opposite, namely the uprooted ness from both the home and the diaspora. Moreover, in the abovementioned two films, bags and suitcases symbolize the ultimate rootlessness of death, but also convey that their content is all that is left from its owner. The secrecy of clandestine border c rossings
64 him/her from his/her family they might never learn what happened. The letters in Waalo Fendo and Las Cartas de Alou signify the connection between the exil 5). The letters serve as the media that feed the imagination and uphold the image of the North as being a s pace of opportunity because, as in the case of Yaro, the success of the migrant is measured against t he imagination, not the reality. This forces the migrant to recreate the imagination in letters in ord er to not be deemed a failure. In the case of Alou, l etters he narrates later in the film, both to his parents and his friends in Senegal and Spain, communicate the frustrations he experienc es as an undocumented immigrant. Therefore letter writing serves as a more direct sociopolitical message aga inst discri mination and racism. Alou writes his letter in Wolof which the film translates by means of Spanish and French subtitles, thus emphasizing the significance of letters as connecting devices in a multinational global network. In both cases, however, the pres ence of letters link s the displaced character and his/her home and writing voiceover consistently accompanies difficult situations he finds him self in, which emphasizes the disconnect between what his family imagines his life to be and the on screen reality. Letter writing is also as Naficy points out, a common cinematic device in what he epistolarity appears to be less a function of plot formation and character motivation than an expression and inscription of exilic displacement, split subjectivities, a nd
65 Despite the fact that Armendriz is not technic ally an accented filmmaker, Alou's letters seem to express the division and multiple perspectives of the migrants. This first letter in Las Cartas de Alou expresses the multifocal imagination of the prospective migrant and serves to inform th e non diegetic friend, and therefore the viewer, of the reasons why Alou has chosen to migrate: to find better work. Alou furthermore concern that if she wanted to speak to him, s he would not know how to reach him, to which he does not respond The film implies that with his border crossings into the North comes a detachment from the family and the possibility that the letter that he writes to his friend will never be delivered, but serves as a representation of what Naficy labels split subjectivities. Alou is aware that with his migration, he does not only cross economical and geographical borders, but also cultural and personal ones and the unpredictability of his plans put the family unity at risk. In his imagination, the host country, in this case Spain, is not only a place of promise, but also a space that detaches him from the locale he is leaving behind, which signifies that the imagination of migrants does not only include hope and desire, but also an awareness of loss and alienation. The same awareness is presented in Waalo Fendo shortly before Demba goes on the boat that is Although Soudani is an accented filmmaker while Armendriz is not, their films share a number of features that are directly related to the theme of undocumented migration. The represent ation of dangerous sea travel both reflects on the anxieties of
66 the nation state in which the film was made, as is the case with Las Cartas de Alou ; in Waalo Fendo however, Soudani also recreates the social anxieties of the nation state Italy in which the film is set, rather than those of the country of production (Switzerland). While there are certainly overlaps in Italian and Swiss public opinion with regards to immigration, Waalo Fendo with c landestine sea travelers.
67 CHAPTER 3 THE CINEMATIC CREATION AND NEGOTIATION OF CLANDESTINE LABORSCAPES The Significance of Undocumented Labor in International Cinema In the previous chapter I have discussed the creation and development of imaginations that trigger the desire to overcome the distance between two nation states as well as representations of these border crossings. Once the migrant has use arriving implies that the journey has come to an end. In many transit films, however, the journey continues within the borders of the target country and the same can be said about clandestine transit cinema. Imaginations are at the heart of global migr ation flows, but just like these flows themselves, imaginations constantly shift and adjust to the multiple realities with in the diaspora. In this chapter, I emphasize creation and negotiation of spaces of undocumented labor as a central theme in clandesti ne migration cinema. Furthermore, I argue that instead of unifying within ethnoscapes, illegal immigrants often settle in subaltern, or illegal, laborscapes. The latter exemplifies Karl Deutsch s interpretation of what creates a unified group based on nati onality: aspect of the unity of a people is the complimentary or relative efficiency of communication among individuals something that is in some ways similar to mutual (quoted in Schlesinger 19). T he common experience of uprooted people trying to survive through work characterizes the cinematic space s The undocume nted transnational experience can be communicated clearly among the constituents of the laborscape because of the common experience, but not outward for fear of detection
68 Border crossings within the nation state take on the form of crossing from the urban into the rural space or vice versa, stepping from legality into illegality in terms of immigration documents, crossing racial divides, gen der boundaries, and class lines. Additionally, border crossings take place internally as the migrant moves from hopeful to hopeless, from being supported to being abandoned, from a positive attitude towards the nation state to a negative one or vice versa Here I attempt to outline the spaces, both external and internal, that undocumented migrants cross, willingly and unwillingly, once they have reached the target country with a special emphasis on the role of labor and its relationship with survival. Based on Appadurai s scapes which I have discussed identification of the undocumented immigrant with other illegals rather than people who share their national, ethnic, and cultural background and constitute an ethnoscape. The subaltern laborscape is invisible and created by the diasporic identification of being an collective shame of going back with nothing). the modern world because it brings laboring populations into the lower class sectors matic representation of the subaltern diaspora discovers the dynamics within a truly transnational collective which is unified by the experience of having fallen out of the focus of global navigation. This includes the common experience of uprooted people who try to survive similar situations and navigate through a diasporic landscape in which they form bonds through their shared experience of being clandestine immigrants in search of work. This makes
69 these bonds transnational and complicates Appadurai s concept of diasporic cultural landscapes by adding to them a political identification overruling a cultural sense of belonging. T he ideology and politics of the respective nation state therefore create the subaltern diaspora that does not allow undocumente d immigrants to be visible and that does no t attempt an identification of undocumented laborers that goes beyond their immigration status. On the other hand, within the subaltern diaspora, the clandestine actors carve out spaces of agency and vision. In a ddition, my concern with imagination s continues because as the migrant meets his/her personal diasporic reality, the imagination becomes redefined, negotiated, abandoned, and revised. The creation of clandestine landscapes within the subaltern labor diaspo ra remains inextricably linked to the imagination of the migrant and its constant revision. Diasporic spaces are only to a certain degree dictated by the of documents closes certain avenues, but it also opens up new ones that are realized through individual and collective agency and the refusal to abide by the policies and leave the subaltern diaspora. Individual migrants are not passively led through the subaltern dia spora based on the channels that are opened up for them; instead, their imagination and subsequent determination initiates the negotiation of spaces. Furthermore, individual negotiating links self identification with a collective through the common experie nce of being considered illegal workers. The collective assists and protects, and its absence leads to isolation from the collective and forecloses avenues.
70 Exploitation and Resistance in The Rural Laborscape Most of the films included in this dissert ation are set in urban centers and the majority of this chapter is indeed concerned with the city Rural farm labor however, makes up important parts of both Waalo Fendo and Las Cartas de Alou and they bear quite striking similarities. Therefore I return briefly to these two films to discuss how the y visualize the rural laborscape I argue that the rural laborscape gains significance because the farmwork that the migrants engage in on screen could be interpreted as a pt of how the Global South spreads and plants the seeds in the North, the fruit of which will return to the South. Furthermore, both films tie this space to moments of resistance and especially in the case of Waalo Fendo this resi stance is reminiscent of worker strikes in Europe, such as the 2002 sit in protest in Seville during which workers of local Strawberry farms protested work conditions and demanded work permits. in Las Cartas de Alou are almost equally divided between urba n and rural laborscapes and initially, his experience with migrant harvest labor is surprisingly positive. After arriving at the Spanish beach following his boat journey across the Mediterranean, Alou finds himself in a tent city by the shore. A truck come s by, apparently to pick up workers, and the men on the flatbed beckon Alou to join him. Alou runs after the truck and jumps aboard without any knowledge about who the turns out to work in favor of Alou, who next we see harvesting cucumbers under a tarp along with other migrant workers. After having worked that day, he asks for a job and continues as a laborer on the farm. His comparatively positive experience, however, is
71 subtly subverted through the tasks he is asked to perform. After picking pears on the with a canister on his back. The already mentally and physically challenging task of harvesting now becomes extended to include the straight out harmful and damaging labor of spraying pesticides, signifying both the exploitation of the migrant worker, but wly poisoned by the demands and challenges of the undocumented laborscape, which expresses itself at a later part in the film during which Alou challenges authority and loses his job. The film never reveals the reason for th e conflict but when one of the plantation supervisors, Alou loses the complacency that has dominated his general attitude towards rural labor until this point and unexpectedly throws a pear at the man. While his opponent recovers from the attack. on. it turns out to be only the beginning of his growing frustration and vulnerability. Waalo Fendo like the news footage of chained immigrants I discussed earlier very openly references slavery and thus visually and narratively infuses the Atlantic Slave Trade into its representation of contemporary undocumented labor. Yaro, Theo, and Demba w ork on a tomato farm in Sicily. At this point in the film Theo functions as narrator and like Demba has done before, directly addresses the viewer by speaking to the camera. He explains that Yaro and his co worker Brahim plan a strike on the plantation to pressure the owner into paying them for Sunday work. Following the depi ction of a tension filled day before the strike starts, the film incorporates footage of a slave castle and via voice over, a French speaking guide
72 explains the practices of evaluating the worth of prospective slaves who are about to start the middle passa followed by a close up of Yaro looking into the distance, which establishes the connection between hist orical slave labor and contemporary subaltern labor and the alienation and exploitation of both slaves and contempora ry undocumented workers in the g lobal North. Additionally, this scene once again e mphasizes the role of the sea by cutting back and forth b etween the historical structures and the ocean, culminating into a shot during which the handheld camera moves through the passage that took the slaves to the boats to be taken to the slave ship. Especially the images of the sea remind us of the ones we ha clandestine crossing of the seas resembles the Middle Passage and that both lead to different kinds of slavery. despite the slave castle speaking Ghana, events in Wolof highlights the internal conflict of the Senegalese migrant whose exposure to the g lobal North did not start with his physical journey, but remains embedded in his identity as a Senegalese with a still present colonial past. Following the cutaway scene of the Ghanaian slave castle, we find ourselves back on the Italian tomato plantation where a pondering Yaro looks de solate and deep in thought, to suddenly look up as the urgen t sound of drums appears. The next frame shows hand squeezing tomatoes instead of picking them, indicating the resistance against further enriching bosses by destroying the value they have formerly generated. From the destruction of single tomatoe s the film moves on to a figure
73 tumbling over crates of harvested tomatoes. The workers assemble on the path amid the fields and walk menacingly towards the camera, which gives us the perspective of who presumably is the plantation owner. The workers walk past and ignore their boss who is left looking at the destruction on the plantation. Along with the worker mutiny we get a glimpse of the mutual dependence because the walk off and subsequent emptiness of the farm reveals that not a single worker had legal papers and was adequately paid. But more importantly, Soudani creates a labor situation in which the undocumented worker refuses dependence and exploitation and navigates the subaltern laborscape based on agency and vision as Appadurai proposes rather th an being consisten tly victimized. Nigerian migr filmmaker Femi Agbayewa includes a similar reference to slavery in his 2008 film (Nigeria/USA). Nigerian immigrant Ike has just arrived in New York and works, without papers, in a restaur ant kitchen. After being attacked by his manager for working too slowly, Ike quits and walks off the job, only to find out immediately after that he needs to raise money for a family emergency. A fter learning that his sister needs money to treat an illness he realizes that he might have to tu rn to crime to survive and the film immediately c uts to a rural scene in Nigeria. voice narrates in voice slave beach. This is the path that the slaves used to walk until they reac hed the point of no return. They will lose their memory. Mindless and trapped in their physical body in a never 1 Agbayewa uses the wants to engage in criminal activity and ult imately suggests that the limited opportunities 1 Badagry is a coastal town in Southwest Nigeria which functioned as slave port during the Atlanti c Slave Trade.
74 labor or criminal activity. 2 Although Agbayew a do es not tie the slave reference to rural labor, but to undocumented labor in general, his commentary about dependence and exploitation in the subaltern diaspora clearly resembles that of Mohammed Soudani in Waalo Fendo The cinematic portraits of undoc umented harvest labor visualize the difficult conditions and exploitation practices undocumented laborers suffer under, bu t in contrast to the cinematic urban laborscapes, they offer room for resistance and agency. It is furthermore significant that after these incidents, both Alou and Yaro return to the city where a greater variety of opportunities leave more choice. Mapping the Subaltern Laborscape of Hospitality In cinema of clandestine transit, the globalized city becomes a cinematic manifestation of transnational movements of money, labor, goods, media, and people The actual city space with its buildings, streets, sidewalks, cars, and other signifiers of the g within global scapes or pockets and the nature of their interplay is dependent on the nature, purpose, and form of the respective community. These diasporic pockets are c a form of negotiation between sites cities are not only significant in their cinematic representation. Globalized urb an centers constitute the space in which immigrants, undocumented or not, can situate themselves 2 I will discuss this film in more detail in chapter five.
75 and benefit from anonymity and existing networks. Ironically, the migrants in cinemas of transit move through places of mobility such as airports, train stat ions, and hotels. Naficy calls these locales chronotopes of transit and I maintain that they are not specific to accented cinema, but make up a large part of migrant cinema. These spaces of transit are largely associated with the urban setting and cities often become cosmopolitan and multicultural centers rather than national urban spaces. In the case of Dirty Pretty Things for example, Leila Amine observes that ters. The local map of (Amine 82). These global parameters are in all clandestine transit films because all films were made about protagonists who are ultimately victimized b y a global world order that actively restricts their mobility and exploits their need for economic survival. However, by not submitting to the restrictions of global mobility, clandestine migrants become active part of the globalized city through participa tion in social and labor networks. On the flip side, unauthorized migration could not take place without global urban centers that form both the destinations as well as the cities migrants pass through. The cities of Dakar and Tripoli, for example, have be come popular destinations for those wishing to cross the water to the Canary Islands and Lampedusa, respectively. Acclaimed British filmmaker Stephen Frears is well known for taking on social issues in his films, such as immigration and homosexuality in M y Beautiful Laundrette (1985), and for the social realism in his films. Dirty Pretty Things skews our usual definitions of home and belonging, host and guest, health and the Rosello 17). Dirty Pretty Thing is probabl y the best known cinematic
76 example of the significance of labor for unauthorized workers London citiscape in which foreign workers try to make a living the migrant worker in the global city as a struggl e not to be consumed by the excessive the hotel Baltic in London with a work force that largely consists of undocumented workers. Two of these workers, the Turkish m aid Senay and the Nigerian night porter Okwe, involuntarily become involved in the illegal trafficking of human organs, a scheme operated by hotel manager Senor Sneaky, that are taken from undocumented immigrants in exchange for legal papers and European p assports. After a series of trau matizing events during which Senay is forced to leave her job, is harassed by immigration officers, and forced to perform oral sex on her new employer in order to keep her job, she decides to give up her kidney in exchange f or an Italian passport that will grant her entry into the United States and possibly a new life in New York City. and set off to the airport from where Senay boards a plane to New York City with a new Italian passport while Okwe returns to Nigeria, also with a new identity to be reunited with his daughter. Dirty Pretty Things visualizes de of cosmopolitan London familiar from glossy to The them e of hospitality and tourism remain ever present in Dirty Pretty Things but o nly because clandestine labor often constitutes a vital part of an industry of mobi lity which provides the global traveller with transportation, accommodation, and other services. Places like hotels and airports
77 become symbols of mobility and often the workplace for those who are the least global, including the working poor and undocumen ted immigrants who are easy to hide behind closed doors places comes to mind, which he describes as Non places include places of transit such as airports and chain hotels, but also hospitals, gated communities and refugee camps and are characterized by their sameness across a great variety of local s ettings. The uniformity of non places seems to render participants equal in the way they na vigate these spaces through movement and consumption (with some variations between the common traveller and the one who is a bit more privileged and has access to the Lufthansa VIP lounge). The sense of sameness is reinforced by the conceptual detachment o f the non place from its surroundings. Sarah Sharma, however, has pointed to a significant neglect within this discourse and emphasizes what lies beneath the non places, namely the workers behind the scenes. L abor force s uphold access to the amenities tha t the trave ler s expect and these labor forces are not uniform around the world. Sharma points out that while the structures and services are indeed uniform in the non places around the world, the labor force remains l ocal and locally recognizable: I s eyes focus upon the laborer of non place, then suddenly a locality to the non place will emerge [...] who they are speaks to local flows of immigration, the raced constitution of classed formation, and the particular gendered divisions of labor that char acterize the loc ality that the non place shares. (Sharma 146) Therefore places of transit might exhibit sameness across localities, but they always stay connected to the local even if it is not always immediately recognizable. Sharma thus objects to th e notion that non
78 can never be merely places of transit or passing through and as such cannot be places of equality based on a similar experience of uniformity. On the contrary, non places, especially those that are part of modern travel such as airports and hotel chains, can become examples of restricted mobility and inequality. Furthermore, the multiplicity of this work force, both in terms of cultural or ethnic background and in the type of work that is b eing performed highlights the complicated and unequal nature of global transit through which non places come to be. The non place is not merely a place of transit for people because not everyone smoothly passes through passport control S ome travelers mi ght be of global travel and never have access to the places of consumption in the passenger lounge (Sharma). Additionally, not all passengers voluntarily pass through the non space A irports, for example, can also be places through which people are removed from one nation state without having any part in the decisio n where they will be moved to. Through this perspective, the non place becomes a space that is characterized b y both the p assing through of travel ers or consumers as well as the non mobility of those who either work to maintain the non place and its services and those who do not have access to the sort of mobility that leads to passing through the non place Many workers iron ically never experience the degree of mobility of those to who m they attend on a daily basis. The underlying and often invisible machinery that keeps services and processes running can only be erased as long as we concentrate on the privileged constituents of places of transit. The Baltic Hotel in Dirty Pretty Things is an example of the non localization because the workforce is situated in London and cannot become part of the
79 privileged travelers who they serve. But Frears adds another layer in tha t he chooses a hotel to be the place of employment for people who have little control over their mobility and who are not altogether welcome in London. desk and the day shift as a taxi driver, only interrupted by a few hours of looking for passengers We are immediately introduced to the role he takes on when he tells pote ntial passengers whose pick rescue of many who do not otherwise have access to help: he treats the owner of the cab agency and his undocumented colleagues for STDs and a Somali immigrant for complications from the botched surgery to remove his kidney. Okwe personifies the dilemma of the undocumented worker who not only has to hide his real identity (to escape political and cri minal persecution in Nigeria), but also has no chance to work in his learned profession. Okwe could never be a doctor in a London hospital, but he services the unwelcoming host country by curing its constituents from diseases welcoming visitors at the Bal tic Hotel, and giving them rides through the metropolis. because, firstly, his options are limited and secondly, in order to be employed in his primary jobs (night porter and ta xi driver), he must give in to the additional demands of his employers. The vulnerability of its workers constitutes a vital part of the subaltern laborscape
80 stark contrast to w hat the city offers him. He has to work two jobs to survive and lives in constant fear of being detected and deported. The person behind his job profiles does no t interest to anyone. Ironically, audience which also never lear We watch Okwe as night porter, taxi driver, and doctor, but the person behind these professions remains a mystery. The film reveals undocume nted worker although he is a doctor. Through his conversations with Senay, we learn that h is wife died in an accident, that he is sought for her death and that he has a 7 year old daughter. Frears makes the clandestine worker physically visible through the camera, but of so many clandestine migrants. As Davis points out, the body in this film signifies its relation to exploitative global conditions and the lack of private agency: The mission of the film the underground economy of immigrant labor while minimizing the fragmentation is through providing kidneys or sexual fa vors. (Davis 48) you will be gutted like an animal. They will cut you here, or they w ill cut you here. They Dirty Pretty Things ). The immigrant body turns into a commodity to enri ch members of the global North and t he labor performed by the maid or night porter without papers is not the only sort of work expected of the clandestine migrant. The dependence on these jobs creates an
81 nay), organ remover (Okwe), doctor and surgeon (Okwe), and prostitute (Senay). 3 The furthermore plays out in the exchange between Okwe and the owner of the cab agency. He asks Okwe to come to a backroom with him and once there motions him to kneel Only after Okwe has kne eled we find out that attempts to a sexually transmitted disease His position vis vis his employer however, represents a foreboding of on in the film. T he u ndocumented workers in Dirty Pretty Things are confined within the space that exploits them, their skills, and their bodies because in order to survive without papers, they are dependent on the middlemen who employ them and constitute the ween the worker and the laws outside of the subaltern diasporic space. Amine furthermore observes that the middlemen are not necessarily white citizens of Britain. The hotel manager who runs the organ trafficking ring hails from Spain and he sweatshop has also immigrated to London at some point The Baltic Hotel, or the main non place in the film, represents a multicultural space within which mobility and citizenship are the main factors when it comes to opportunity and choice. Significantl y, the organs are not sold for money by the immigrants, but for passports. Instead, the immigrants ask for a European passport that grants a stay in London or access to the USA without the need for a visa. The Baltic Hotel therefore provides an opportunity 3 Senay becomes the clandestine mirror of British prostitute Juliet, but her subaltern status denies her the choice that Juliet has a British citizen.
82 literal exploitation of the immigrant body. In giving up an organ, the clandestine come Ironically, the investigation of th e immigration office rs who go after Senay does not include Okwe and it is likely that his visibility saves him from scrutiny. Michel discussion of the panopticon comes to mind in which people are kept in line because they never know when they a re being watched Okwe benefits from the assumption that undocumented laborer occupy a space in which they must be physically hidden. The hotel rooms that need to be cleaned offer opportunity for invisibility and so does the sweatshop. The film on the one hand upholds this common association between invisibility and undocumented labor by only threatening the maid Senay and the sweatshop workers with immigration investigations. On the other hand, er seems to keep him safe. The character Okwe cheats the system precisely by not hiding, but by beating it at its own game. He successfully steals medication and surgical equipment by posing as h such kind of work. Had he acted as the doctor that he is, he most likely would not have been successful. Dirty Pretty Things therefore complicates the concepts of visibility and invisibility that accompany the illegal migration discourse. During a brief conversation with a member of the organ ring who had expected to meet Seor Sneaky, but instead finds Okwe, Senay, and Juliet, the following conversation ensues: ur cabs. We clean your
83 The vulnerable position of the immigrant and fragility of the subaltern laborscape not only forces him/her to conceal his/her citizenship and/or lack of documents, but creates alternative identities that are exchangeable and malleable. When Okwe ends his taxi shifts, he hands his identification documents to the next driver. While doing so, doctor from Lagos with the name Olusegun Fadipe is not only useless in this environment of survival, it becomes a threat when Senor Sneaky discovers who he really is and uses the information to blackmail Okwe into performing the surgeries for the organ harvesting ring. Rosello reinforces the im does homeland but in a way that does not correspond to usual narratives of returns to the labor is often tied to the wish to go home or go elsewhere and the general discourse of migration as a journey from a home to a destination seems oversimplified. Dirty Pretty Things features characters who find themselves in a limbo state similar to Abdallah in Heremakono except th at this time exile itself constitutes this condition. As long as clandestine migrants, or transients as Rosello insists, can only occupy laborscapes that they can hardly control, the limbo stage will remain in effect. t triggered by his desire to leave his home country, but to return to it and be reunited with his 7 year old daughter. His attitude
84 towards the homeland is divided between the nation state run by corrupt officials on the one hand and the country of his roo ts, career, and family on the other hand. 4 Naficy addresses the significance of nostalgia in accented cinema in terms of a tendency on part of filmmakers to present a romantic version of the homeland. In clandestine migration films, however, the relationsh ip between the migrant and the homeland is more complicated because by crossing borders secretly, the migrant has to commit to not returning until s/he has reached the goal in host nation state since return is too risky. T he subalterity of the characters f ragments attitudes and perceptions of the homeland because they cannot go bac k and forth. only end when s/he possesses legal papers and therefore has access to civil rights and the cultural dominant. Subal terity for immigrants resembles homelessness on multiple levels. The subaltern migrant does not have access to of having documented access. At the same time, s/he is far away from the homeland and cannot conne ct like a documented migrant can for fear of detection or inability to return. Linking undocumented migration to homelessness makes it all the more ironic that Okwe and Senay, with their undocumented labor, provide London visitors with a home away from hom e. Dirty Pretty Things further makes this connection by lit erally leaving Okwe homeless He does not have a place to live and relies on Senay for brief naps on her couc h after they have gone through the daily ritual of secretly exchanging the key. 4 The same is true for Jean Ma Clando which I will discuss in chapter four
85 Jean Luc and Jacques Dardenne's 1996 film La Promesse ( The Promise Belgium) also addresses the issue of subaltern labor which pro vides hospitality and services to a host nation that does not even acknowl As filmmakers, Jean Luc an d Jacques Dardenne are part of the European national cinemas of th e 1990s in which films reflect on a European anxiety regarding immigrants and the illegal crossing of its borders. German immigration films for example, often dealt with issues of racism an d xenophobia ( Otomo which I will discuss in chapter four, is a good example), while Spanish and Italian migrant films tend to include water crossings and beach arrivals ( Waalo Fendo and Las Cartas de Alou but also Bwana by Imanol Uribe [Spain 1996] ), re European shores. The Dardenne films are characterized by gritty, urban industrial locations mostly their hometown including a focus on the marginalized or declasse in society black mar (Bickerton 16). In the context of migration cinema, the Dardenne brothers are especially interesting because all of their films are distinctly localized and intimate. They nev er leave the boundaries of whichever industrial Belgian town is the setting and they are concerned with contemporary Belgian issues. With La Promesse the y comment on the exploitation of immigrant labor as well as issues of xenophobia and racism that conce rn ed Belgians in the 1990s when La Promesse was made. In the film, teenager Igor and his father Roger run construction operations for which they mostly employ undocumented immigrants ( who m they also provide with fake papers ) Roger rents out rooms to and e mploys illegal laborers, sells fraudulent residence permits, is involved in
86 human trafficking, and overall makes a living off the dependency of people on a link to the legal world they cannot access by themselves. When Hamidou, a Senegalese worker, becomes severely injured after an accident, Igor promises him that he will look after his wife and child. Igor tries to help Hamidou and asks his father to call an ambulance, but Roger afraid that his operations will be unveiled refuses and lets Hamidou die. In an attempt to seek redemption and to honor his promise to her dying searching for him. The film ends with Igor revealing the truth to Assita. La Promesse begins by introd wallet before he is called away from work to join his father. The two ride a van past an industrial urban landscape of Eastern Belgium. In contrast to the vital and multicultural cityscape of London we occa sionally get to see in Dirty Pretty Things the setting of La Promesse only shows us a side of Belgium as the host nation that is uninviting and gritty. Furthermore, we are introduced to the significance of Belgium as a destination for immigrants early on. After collecting an incoming group of undocumented workers who entered the country hidden in a car transport, Roger points to the dreary cityscape and The ts have either come to work or are in transit to another destination in Europe or North America and by supplying fraudulent residence permits and passports, as well as accommodation Roger and Igor quite literally take on the role as hosts that the nation state Belgium refuses to be. Their premises constitute the laborscape in La Promesse like the Baltic Hotel in Dirty Pretty Things in which the global circulation of labor manifests through the assembly and disassembly of groups of workers who are
87 unified only by the common experience of performing unauthorized labor. The labor scape of providing visitors with accommodation and a home away from home in Dirty Pretty Things becomes a laborscape of providing literal homes for Belgian citizens in La Promesse Behind Roger hides a colossal system comprised of individuals, governments, and corporate players, including a shipping company and a prostitution ring Roger belongs to an apparatus that consumes and spits out dispensable human labor and preys on the imaginations and expectations of migrants. Roger furthermore represents the middlemen who keep the system working by functioning as the link between the unauthorized worker and the world outside. Furthermore Roger and Igor fun ction as the doormen for unauthorized immigrants through concealing their true identity in exchange for labor on their premises. However, in contrast to Seor Sneaky, Roger and Igor are neither deliberately abusive nor do they appear to greatly benefit fi nancially. The cordial relationship between Roger and Igor and the workers is limited by language barriers and clearly only for mutual benefit. Initially, Roger seems to personify the La Promesse but as the story unravels, villain and he begins to embody a more complex part of the subaltern labor system than Seor Sneaky. Roger and Igor work on the construction site alongside the immigrant workers and the state of their apartment suggest s that they themselves are part of the Belgian working class.
88 La Promesse not only adds layers to a normally vilified labor system, but also allows for the immigrant character to be flawed and therefore human. A common trope in migrant cinema is the hard working, exploited and victimized im migrant With Hamidou, the Dardenne brothers again resist the convention of the good immigr ant and the bad employer that we see in Dirty Pretty Things and Waalo Fendo In fact, La Promesse is quite remarkable in that it partially avoids the dichotomy of victimized death, the film reinstates this dichotomy). Prior to the arrival of his wife, Hamidou loses a lo t of money by engaging in gambling and therefore fails to adequately care for his family. Instead of being able to participate in a laborscape of opportunity to better support himself and his kin, he finds his only escape in a practice that renders his imm igration efforts useless because he loses his money almost as soon as he makes it. Hamidou is not the hardworking and money saving immigrant whose only concern is the support of his family. In creating a flawed immigrant character, the filmmakers break awa y from the sanitized characterizatio ns of immigrant workers like Yaro in Waalo Fendo and Okwe in Dirty Pretty Things and therefore complicate the relationships within the subaltern labor system. However, Hamidou ultimately suffers the consequences of bei ng a commodity within this corrupt system that values humans only in terms of the revenue they potentially generate. is on the scaffold and unable to hear the warning cries. Igor runs through the house, yelling to the workers to get out. The camera movements are shaky and the atmosphere frantic, reinforced by the diegetic sound of people running. Igor rushes up the stairs to warn
89 Hamidou. When Igor turns away from the window and runs down the stairs, he hears a noise, which is barely audible to the viewer, and turns around. All other sounds are gone pleading voice. Hamidou lies visible on his chest. When Hamidou asks Igor to take care of his wife and child the up of Igor and Hamidou faces during their exchange and the stillness around them underscores the intimacy of the moment. The workplace that has separated them based on their legal statu s and relationship as employer and employee now unites them forever as human beings. By promising Hamidou to look after his wife and child, Igor has begun his separation from Roger and the system that has turned Hamidou into a commodity. The moment ends Hamidou into a corner and runs to meet the labor inspectors. After convincing them that everything is in order at the site, Igor returns and tries leg Roger appears and Igor asks his father to get the injured man to a hospital. Roger asks what they would tell the hospital and when it dawns on Igor that Roger does not intend to help Alou, the diegetic sound stops for a few seconds while the two look at each other throu gh alternating close ups of their faces. The complete silence and stillness of their faces emphasize the profundity of the moment, which ends when Roger gets up and runs past Igor. The frantic pace that preceded returned and suggest s that the focus is back on protecting the laborscape at the expense of the moment of humanity we just witnessed.
90 Roger removes the belt that stopped the bleed ing, covers Hamidou with a tarp and a door, and tells Igor to cover the blood with sand. Ulti mately Hamidou slowly gets killed by his vulnerable position as an undocumented laborer. He falls from the scaffold because he is in a hurry to hide from the labor inspectors and although he is still alive, Roger insists on covering his body with a tarp an d a door and the blood with sand, all of which are parts of the construction site. In other words, Hamidou literally dies under the burden of being an illegal laborer. Furthermore, while he is dying, Assita appears chasing a chicken that lands on the door under which Hamidou lies. Roger di stracts her safe. Roger and Igor return to the site after dark and bury the now dead Hamidou in cement, one of the most typical compone nts of construction sites. During the process, the camera remains removed from the characters and we watch the burial from a distance, as if watching something forbidden. In contrast to the intimacy of the faces in close up during the accident and its imme diate aftermath the distance now seems to remove us from the characters, as if to emphasi ze the callousness of the act. Mai notes that Hamidou goes from being cheap labor to being a corpse, a body at its (11). Silence and invisibility are at the core of the apparatus that exploits illegals and when the migrant cannot guarantee his silence and invisibility, the sy stem will discard of the threat This is possible because the ones in control of the undocumented laborscape are aware that illegals do not exist as long as they are not visible 5 Furthermore, 5 she is told
91 foundation, like the invisible workers who literally build the foundations of houses for Belgian citizens who will never know. La Promesse thus implies that the g lobal North has built its foundat ion on the exploitation of the g lobal South and continues a colonial legacy in a neo colonial (capitalist) world order. The trope of the exploitation of the immigrant bod y does not stop with Hamidou. em safe from outside scrutiny, wife Assita remains and is left in the belief that he ran away to evade the collection of his gambling debts Roger sends her a fake telegraph stating that Hamidou will eventually meet up with her in Cologne. Roger offers to take her to Germany to supposedly be reunited with her husband, but Igor realizes that his father intends to sell her into an underground p rostitution ring. While before Assita is only seen in her function as housewife and mother and therefore primarily as part of the family unit rather than the illegal labor system, she too turns into a commodity. Just like ger who are set up to be publicly arrested to appease a Belgian public demanding actions against illegal immigrants, Assita is about to be sold into a new system because that is where she can create revenue and poses no threat. Here again the immigrant bec omes part of a deeper layer of exploitation, similar to giving an organ for a passport. La Promesse like Dirty Pretty Things provides very limited insight into the stereotypical images of traditional African religion Hamidou and Assita engage in With their focus on the labor system, rather than the exploited workers therein, the Da rdenne
92 brothers, like Stephen Frears, unveil an apparatus that otherwise defies scrutiny and visualize the profound vulnerability of undocumented workers. Furthermore, t heir cinematic interpretations of undocumented immigration obviously reflect on the anx ieties and debates taking place within their respective nation states Street Vending in the European Urban Jungle Waalo Fendo introduces the audience to the significance of undocumented labor early on thr ough a conversation between Yaro and Theo. They sel ect pieces of jewelry The clandestine laborscape in Waalo Fendo takes the form of street vending, which in contrast to construction work and hospitality services forces the undocumented worker to move out in the open. Given the few opportunities to find work in Italy, Theo and Yaro do not have a choice other than to become part of an exploitative system within which the last link of the chain, the street vendor like Yaro and Theo, can barely survive because the middlemen who can safely navigate between the legal and the illegal laborscape are aware of their dependence observations trader. He Dakar, we get to see several market scenes in which the market is a place where people gather and interact, very much unlike the hurried and generic interact ions in Italy. In another contrast, the market scenes in Dakar appear in bright sunlight and obvious warmth while Waalo Fendo situates the immigrant street vendors in a cityscape that is always cold and often r ainy, or stark and dirty subway stations.
93 Sig nificantly, the street scenes we encounter in Las Cartas de Alou are similarly gra y and rainy, again suggesting that the immigrants are navigating a hostile and alienating environment. Alou has left the countryside to travel to Barcelona and see his friend who had promised him work. We see him waking up in a train or bus station, realizing that his bag was stolen. Trapped and without connections, he aimlessly wanders around a hostile cityscape. He is obviously cold and at some point it starts to rain. He do es not approach anyone until he sees a man who he deems to be from Senegal. T his encounter introduces him to street vending and his newfound friend teaches him the basic techniques of sellin g jewelry, lighters, batteries, and other small items on the stree already immersed him/herself into the urban subaltern laborscap e in the host country. Demba undergoes a similar stre et vending initiation period with his brother Yaro as his mentor opportunity for shelter and acts as a mentor for the rookie migrant, but he also benefits Armendriz recreates pitiful first attempts that emphasize the degree of alienation of the immigrant who does slow immersion into the trade through watching him sell on the street, fleeing from police (which establishes the subalterity of this space) and his manipulation of drunken customer s who pay significantly more than the item is worth. The clandestine urban laborscape is clearly linked to a glob al capitalist economy U ndocumented migrants often work in sectors of hospitality, or non places like hotels
94 and transportation, bu t also engage in street vending that ironically provide Western citizens with merchandise such as necklaces and bags that lo ok like they might be from the African countries of the seller. During the transaction, the West ern customers therefore acquire remains concealed and is of no interest to the customer because in the capitalist global economy, culture is shared and distributed through consumer goods rather than human interaction This is the same phenomenon of invisibility we have observed in Dirty Pretty Things official eye. Waalo Fendo also references illegal labor. T condemnation of this kind of work, Waalo Fendo emphasizes that only legal work i s acceptable. The film however, also reinforces the danger, frustration, and futility of The tragically ending lives only play a minor role in a more and more cruel world. Many tear up their residence permit. They have had enough of Europe and return to Africa. They have had enough of the police. Enough of humiliation. They have had enough of necklaces and the cold. The cold which makes the bones freeze and which I will never get used to. Demba thus confirms once again, that in the age of neocolonialism a return home Subalterity Illegality and Urban Crime While the great majority of films I have examined are concerned with labor that mig ht require proper documentation papers, but is otherwise legal in the respective nation state some add undocumented workers who, like Waalo Fendo Sam, make a living in crime. T he two films included in the following
9 5 discuss ion of undocumented immigrants and illegal labor were both made by accented filmm akers who live and work in the g lobal North, Germany and the U nited States, respectively, and whose films express the concern with the exilic condition proposed by Naficy, esp outcome of transnationality, and it finds its way into the desolate structures of feelings Kurdish German filmmaker Yksel Yavuz was bor n in Eastern Turkey in 1964 and moved to Germany at the age of 16. Today Yavuz lives and works in Hamburg and has become one of the most critically acclaimed diasporic filmmakers in Germany. His 2002 film Kleine Freiheit ( A Little Bit of Freedom Germany) features Baran and Chenor who both reside in Germany without proper immigration papers. Baran came to German y as a Kurdish asylum seeker after the murder of his parents and evaded deportation when his immigration status expired Chenor similarly lacks lega l resident status and finances his life and dream to travel to Australia through drug deals. The two form a close friendship but upon the appearance of a man who Baran identifies as the man who caused the death of his parents, his quest for revenge takes its toll on his life the Kurdish community and his friendship with Chenor Chenor attempts to come to his rescue and although the conflict is ultimately resolved, Baran and Chenor are arrested in the end. Significantly, Baran and Chenor bond during a mom ent that includes multiple references to mobility. When they first meet, Chenor is listening intently to the travel stories of a mutual friend and former captain. The fragmentation and alienation of the immigrant identity becomes obvious when the captain d escribes his journey along the
96 West African coast His mentioning of Africa is met with little reaction from Chenor who only alienation from his homeland could not be any more ob vio u s. Baran joins them, but remains silent until Chenor compliments him on his bike. During his encounter, we learn o the viewer on rides around the city. However, the film immediately subverts the impression that the characters are in fact mobile A police car appears on the scene and Chenor and Baran get up and casually walk away as not to be identified. The mobility trope in this scene also suggests that their status not only severely limits their mobility, but that it also does not allow them to linger anywhere. Therefore, ironically, the lack of global mobility and the condition of being confined necessitates great Chenor (Kraenzle 99). With their arrest, which happens during a moment of lingering and enj banality of the situation. Chenor and Baran do not get arrested because they get caught working without documents or dealing with drugs, but rather because of a moment durin g which th Baran and Chenor sitting in the public square, and, suspecting them of dealing drugs, The lack of papers then becomes a crime of jus t existing in the wrong space and failing to navigate the saf e routes, even if only for a brief moment.
97 Through rapid montage sequences, neighborhood that is both home and prison to the undocumented protagonist s. The sequences mapped onto Ba ran gripping cross section of the neighborhood by super imposing shots of city traffic with shots of various locations ranging from a Turkish bakery to a constructi on site B aran workplace is a Turkish restaurant in which the overlap of the dominant and the subaltern laborscape once again manifests. Yavuz connects Baran undetectable which becomes most obvious when we race through the city streets as if we were on the bike with Baran neighb orhood puts him right between the dominant space of the legally existing restaurant and the marginalized population it serves. This becomes especially obvious when we learn that Baran regularly provides the homeless captain with food. Baran urthermore illustrates the overlap of ethnoscape and laborscape and it is precisely this overlap that allows Baran to move between the two laborscapes with relative ease. Through his affiliation with the ethnoscape, the Kurdish community that looks out for their own, Baran gains access to a legal laborscape and is at least not dependent on illegal activities for survival. At this point the film also sets up its engagement with illegal urban labor. As Chenor and Baran walk away from the police after their fi rst meeting they run into drug activities through accidentally videotaping a deal and confronts Chenor. Chenor
98 tries t o make him understand that he only deals drugs because he needs the money to leave the space that does not allow him to make money another way. The film does not g rant Chenor the privilege of belonging to an ethno scape situated within the dominant culture which keeps him significantly more marginalized th a n Baran who can at least count on support from his diasporic community For reasons that are never explained, Chenor does not seem to have any contact with which also has a rather large presence in the St. Pauli neighborh are the drug dealers, whose identities are characterized by language and demeanors associated with thugs, including brutality and reckle ssness. Besides Chenor and an African kitchen worker at the Turkish restaurant all Africans are clearly marked as immigrants through language (they speak West African French) and as criminals through their involvement in drug dealing. Chenor is obviously alienated from the dominant culture due to his skin color and sexual orientation but he also remains on the periphery of this illegal laborscape. Whenever an African dealer addresses him in French, he responds in German although he clearly understands wha t is being said to him. Through his choice of l anguage, he separates himself f r om the people he otherwise depends on for survival. Baran on the other hand, effortlessly moves back and forth between Turkish and German because his ethnoscape allows for iden tification with his Kurdish origin. For Chenor, the affiliation with the dominant culture is prefer able to a deeper engagement with the only African community he app a rently knows However, he still remains marginalized in both spaces
99 In the aforemention ed film by Femi Agbeyewa, Ike leaves Nigeria hoping for a better life. Upon arrival in New York City, he looks for his uncle who allegedly owns a hotel in the city. However, as soon as Ike arrives at the hotel, he finds out that his uncle is not the owner of the hotel, but instead works as a dish washer in the hotel kitchen. After taking residence with his uncle, Ike unsuccessfully looks for work as a lawyer, his trained profession After several rejections, Ike begins to work in the same hotel kitchen as his uncle, along with several other immigrants who are also overqualified for the job, but are unable to find work that matches their credentials. After a quarrel with his boss who insists that the workers do not use the front door, Ike qu its his job. Shortly after, Ike learns that his sister in Nigeria is very ill and needs a significant amount of money for treatment. Unable to find legal work that could pay enough to he lp her, Ike participates in credit card fraud, but soon becomes the vi ctim of a scam himself. He confronts the scammer and after shooting one of them, is able to retrieve the money which he sends to his ill sister in a blood smeared envelope. The film begins with images of a Nigerian cityscape. Filmed from a car with a handh eld camera, the focus of this introductory shot is the street that presumably is part of the way to the next destination (the United States). The diegetic street sound creates the immediacy and familiarity that we associate with Nollywood. As the scene acc elerates into rapid speed, the street images become blurred and eventually the screen fades to black before we see a landing aircraft. While Ike moves into the picture on the upcoming escalator and walks through the airport, his off screen voice informs us of the reasons behind his journey (a promise to his dying mother). The cityscape of New York City in which the migration plot is situated (although it is not recognizable as New
100 York yet at this point) comes into view as Ike steps out of the airport. The film cuts back and forth between Ike looking around and up to the skyscrapers and shaky, blurry images of the nightly cityscape, accompanied by non diegetic street sounds that are oddly similar to the ones we have heard befo re in the Nigerian city scene. T he urban images are out of focus, blurry, and details are not recognizable. As Ike starts walking, the film moves into a rapid succession of New York City scenes in accelerated motion, which creates a dizzying and anonymous urbanity, signifying the underbe lly of the urban center within which the protagonist eventually gets involved in 419 fraud schemes. 6 Urbanity in is in many parts associated with speed through accelerated motion and the urban setting is less distinctly recognizable (as N ew York City) as it is in the other films. The city itself becomes a location that signifies dread and fear and foreshadows I Ike predominantly moves within spaces that are set in the underground of the cityscape and largely i nvisible or unrecognizable, for example the hotel kitchen in which only immigrants work and the bar and strip club in which 419 scams are plotted. scapes, cons titute global spaces that form, change and dis sipate as individuals enter the subaltern diaspora and rely on undocumented labor for survival. Farm labor has long been associated with low wages and the necessity of employing undocumented workers. Both Waalo Fendo and Las Cartas de Alou recreate this sp ace, but both also subvert it into a space in which 6 The number advancement schemes and letter impersonations that have come out of Nigeria in massive numbers ent types of e mail and letter reputation as a haven for corruption. The Nigerian government has launched a wide spread campaign against 419 scams.
101 subaltern workers resist against the exploitation of their subalterity and move back into the cityspace with its greater variety of options. The urban center s of London and Liege provide spaces in which a n invisible workforce serves and services the legal constituents of the nation state. spaces that are multinational, multiethnic, and that always overlap with dominant laborscapes because subaltern workers rely on the link to the dominant laborscape to enter its subaltern counterpart. The overlap also constitutes the possibility of appearing to be part of the dominant laborscape, as is the case with Okwe. In La Promesse members of dominant laborscapes, Ro ge r and Igor act as the gatekeepers and protectors who navigate between the spaces and manipulate both for the benefit of the respective other. Kleine Freiheit and despite their significantly different production backgrounds, show simila rities in the visualization of a cityscape in which ethnoscape and laborscape overlap. Kleine Freiheit unfortunately, completely erases an ethnoscape of African immigrants and thereby creates a problematic profile of African immigrants. In terms of depict ing the homeland, however, these two films most clearly feature elements of nostalgia in which the homeland is idealized vis a vis and extremely alienating and hostile host nation state. Urbanity and Clandestine Labor in Accented Nollywood Films With Go my analysis of cityscapes and clandestine labor by emphasizing the similarities between several films made by Nigerian migr filmmakers (including Femi Agbeyewa). Above I have established the significance of the city as a place that offers niches for the
102 undocumented migrant to perform labor. I would like to begin my discussion with a more in dept h look at the Nigerian film industry because is seems to features the most complex relationship between clandestine migration labor urban centers, transnational cinemas, and the revision of imaginations A discussion of clandestine urban labor in accent ed Nollywood films necessitates settings of these productions. Nollywood conventions of filmmaking are highly visible in their diasporic counterparts and by including this group of films, I want to highlight that Hollywood movies cannot claim cinematic dominance to the degree they once could. The accent I propose to be on Nollywood is an accent placed on a filmmaking mode that is dominant in a non Western context. Along wit h Bollywood, the Nigerian spreads out globally through the work of Nigerian migr filmmakers. In this section I am concerned with diasporic Nollywood films shot in the U nited States that have immigration as their central theme and are predominantly set in contemporary U.S. cities. I have selected these films because their stories are explicitly about the undocumented immigrant experience and the problem of f inding work. In addition, these filmmakers convey fairly political messages which are an important feature of accented cinema (but not of Nollywood), in that they contain open criticism towards both the home and the host nation. These filmmakers have not only produced truly transnational Nollywood films in terms of production locale, but have also taken on the theme of Nigerian immigrants who enter the U.S. and attempt to gain legal status or otherwise create a life for themselves as immigrants The films therefore fea ture
103 narratives in which the home and the host country are always present, even if off screen, and in which the immigrant character struggles with the multiplicities of diasporic identities. Furthermore, diasporic Nigerian filmmakers reflect on their imm igration astounding numbers of video films in recent decades, but the significance of the c ity for Nollywood film production does not stop there. Lagos itself is being reproduced, re imagined, and recreated in many of these films. The significance of the Nigerian urban speaking film production is indisputable and the production of English speaking video films in Southern Nigeria is inextricably linked to contemporary Lagos. 7 With this phenomenon, Nollywood follows the cinematic tradition of the cityscape as the setting as well as the symbol of national cinemas, su ch as Rome for Italian, Berlin for German, and Paris for French national cinema. In the development of Nollywood as a thriving and distinctly Nigerian film industry, Lagos has become the icon and symbol of modern Nigerian filmmaking: ium of the city. It is only a city like Lagos that could have significant for the purpose of my discussion because with re appropriating the convention of using urbanity as the prevalent setting, the films are an expression of a space (the city) as both the place and object of the film, as well as the place where 7 The same is true for the Northern Nigerian city of Kano with its thriving production of Hausa films. For k Signal and Noise: Media, Infrastructure, and Urban Culture in Nigeria Durham: Duke University Press, 2008.
104 legitimate or fake copies will be sold. Here again, the illegal DVD vendors who are chased by police at the beginn ing of This America come to mind. Furthermore, in recent years, not only the distribution of Nollywood films, but also their production has become transnational and U.S. based Nigerian filmmakers have produced Nollywood style video that are set in American urban center such as New York City, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. 8 The global pockets that are at the heart of this discussion are the urban Nigerian immigrant communities in several U.S. Nigerians accented Nollywood films who share a space because individua ls sought a new life in the U.S. and with that vision became part of the diasporic community. United States based filmmakers Oliver Mbamara, Bethels Agomuoh, and Felix Nnorom, as well as Sola Osofisan and Eve Ikuenobe Otaigbe have concern ed themselves, p robably self consciously, with the experience o f Nigerian immigrants in the United States and by doing so, have blurred the boundaries between what is local, national, and global about Nollywood film conventions. Bethel Agomuoh and his fellow producers of This America which I will discuss further below, Oliver Mbamara and Felix Nnorom, address their goal in making films that are about Nigerians, but are produced to sl owly creep into the society and make Afro centric movies told by African lead actors written and directed by Africans They suggest that the relocation of production from Nigeria to the U.S. not only offers s ome technological perks, but that it also makes Nollywood a truly transnational phenomenon, apart from its global distribution, within which filmmakers can continue to 8
105 address local issues, but on a global scale and to an extended audience through differen t access to marketing strategies catering to a Western audience. Given that 5), the transnational filmmakers are now facing the challenge of using a very localized film tradition to appea l to a non Nigerian audience. As I have mentioned before, the Lagos cityscape is a recurrent image in n] shooting creates a common realism, a mass of inte rchangeable, conventionally framed shots of Lagos spaces are represented is a feature that transcends into accented Nollywood films as well, in which case they represent how immigrant characters negotiate the local and the transnational space while (physically and mentally) navigating the diaspora. This is to say, accented Nollywood movies depic t the Nigerian immigrant who travels abroad, but finds him/herself not only in a community of Nigerians, but in almost the same cityscapes (albeit different cities), parlors, and bedrooms, which make the film, once city f the past b ut light headed in its drive to look putation of Lagos as a place where everything is possible attracts young people with lots of visions from throughout Nigeria, but it also has a more universal appeal of the vibrant, diverse and worldly urban center.
106 Surely Lagos is more chaotic, less str uctured, and more flexible than most of its global counterparts N evertheless the notion of the city as a place where one can achieve something is translated into the accented Nollywood films by recreating New York as a transnational and cosmopolitan city scape. Significantly, Okome labels the narrative as an ordering system, which is inescapable and all the characters must sign into its system of apprehending realit terms of being an unknown space and difficult to navigate, but also indescribable because of the ever changing tension of expectation and reality. Accented Nollywood films establish urbanity as an important feature of the story in that it represents the urban immigrant space and its opportunities as well as dangers. The films come across as unrelentingly realistic and the dramatic effect of typical Nollywood acting style and di alogue is considerably subdued 9 Furthermore the films feature symbols of transnational movement, such as airplanes, airports, taxis, trains, and so on. Like other recent Nollywood films that are set outside of Nigeria and are largely about Nigerians abroad, these establishing shots of New York. In all cases, the city is unm istakable through the portrayal of well known landmarks. This almost seamless transition from the Lagos cityscape to American urbanity not only suggests an adhe rence to Nollywood conventions, but localizes the transnational space by situat ing it within the transnational experience 9 Hayne s observes the same for other Nollywood films set abroad
107 Other diasporic Nollywood filmmakers have done the same, but in different American setting because they, too, used the city they themselves reside in. Pascal while Eve Ikuenobe God Daughter takes place in Atlanta. Urbanity therefore remains recognizable and very between the local and the transnational adapts to the immi gration theme of the respective diasporic Nollywood films. Lastly, the immigrant experiences are often tied to cities because of the existence of immigrant communities, better work opportunities, and, especially in the case of undocumented immigrants, grea ter ease of blending in with the masses and remaini ng unrecognizable as an illegal. This America introduces Eddie (Bethels Agomuoh himself) an immigrant from Nigeria who has married Anita, an American citizen, for a green card. E ddie receives a visit from his Nigerian cousin Ozobio whose intent is to return to Nigeria until he learns that he lost his job in Nigeria. He subsequently decides to stay in New York. However, lacking proper immigration papers and therefore unable to find work Ozobio agrees friend Jeannie for his green card. The ma rriage however, soon turns sour and t he film concludes with a shooting involving Jeannie and the police that leaves Ozobio motionless on the street, presumably injured or killed In a parallel plotline, Eddie goes through relationship troubles of his own with his estranged wife who threatens to take his green card away. As have mentioned in the introduction, This America opens with a view of a New York neighborhood in which stre et vendors sell CDs. A police car arrives and comes to a stop right beside them and as the vendor s take off, they are chased by two policemen.
108 Urbanity is set up as a transnational space through becoming the work place of undocumented foreign workers S elf consciously the film suggests the possibility that it i tself is sold somewhere in urban America by an immigrant trying to survive. This mega narrative of illegal labor introduces an important part of the relationship between immigration, labor, and the i nformal urban economy created by immigrants in American cities and the subversion of American consumerism into an urban underbelly of piracy, illegal trade, and illegal employment (as in ) Immigrants can survive, but are constantly under scrutiny. From here the film cuts to another scene in which protagonist Ozobio flees from his American gun yielding wife. After a gunshot, the screen fades to black. These seemingly unrelated scenes (the end of the movie reveals the connection) take a fair ly complex look at immigrant realities and introduce s one of the central themes of the film, namely the vulnerability of migrants in the diasporic situation of difficult survival, illegal employment, and dependence on people. This America also suggests th at a part of the American dream remains completely foreclosed to the immigrant without proper papers. While the transnational urban setting offers opportunities for the migrant to integrate him/herself into a community within which s/he shares both the tra nsnational vision and the localized purpose and design with others, this cannot happen detached from the nation state immigration regulations. For the transnational subject who does not have legal status or has gained legal status through illegal action, agency is severely limited and visions crushed as the imagination meets reality. This America represents this through Ozobio who is highly qualified for a position on Wall Street, but is unable to find one because he does not have the proper documents.
109 W hen he is looking for work, Ozobio walks past a Barclays Bank building and we see a sequence of signs and buildings, including a Wall Street sign, JP Morgan Chase, Guardian, and One New York Plaza. The diasporic setting is therefore not only implied to be a transnational place in its physical form, but in its representation it is tied to the locale, for example the imagination of Wall Street as a place that promises wealth and success. Ozobio does have a successful job interview, but soon learns that he can only work with a green card. After the interview the city scenery changes its emphasis on Wall Street images to more general street scenes as if to signify the uncertain ty that lies in this space for the immigrant and the accessibility of some spaces vs. others. On the other hand, however, the city is presented differently when Eddie receives his green card: we see the colors of the American flag reflected on a building n ext to which a pantomime is dressed up as the statue of liberty. Again the portrayal of the city reflects on the opportunities available or not available to the migrant and his/her attitude towards and position within the urban space. The connection betwe en the cityscape and immigrant labor is also obvious in attempts to do the same. When Ike sets out to find work, he like Ozobio, looks very professional in a business suit and confidently walks through the doors of what appears to be an office building in an area that could be Wall Street. The scene cuts to another, but this time Ike is walking along a street that is lined with strip malls, car dealers, restaurants and nail studios in a fairly run down part of the city that does not at all resemble Wall Street. Ike looks desolate. His suit jacket is gone and while his gait was
110 purposeful in the previous scene, he now walks slowly, looking down, and appearing defeated. The mo being hopeful to the realization that the city does not hold the promise he had imagined. younger brother Kwame who offers to work with him on 419 schemes involving credit cards and drugs. While Kwame offers Ike to join him in the schemes, they are standing on a highway bridge overlooking traffic and the skyline in the background. The fast moving cars give an impression of urgency and a fast pace. As the cars are moving fast underneath him, Ike changes the road he has travelled on so far and considers a career in crime. 10 of Nigeria as a place of fraud and corruption and Nigerians as scammer s 11 Accented Nollywood film reflect on the significance of production circumstances of a diasporic Ni gerian community and therefore still exposed to the experience of new immigrants. Although the filmmakers above have not themselves gone through the experience of living as an undocumented immigrant, they have witnessed cases in which Nigerians moved to th e United States without proper papers. Accented Nollywood films address Nigerians in the diaspora, but Nigerian filmmakers in exile work hard on getting the films distributed in Nigeria and therefore make films that are appealing for audiences on both side s of the Atlantic (and beyond). 10 It is also interesting to note that the bridge from which he looks down resembles the Otomo in which the African protagonist, and undocumented immigrant, is shot by German police. I will discuss this film in the next chapter. 11 One of the most recent expressions of this reputation was the representation of Nigerian thugs in Neill Blomkamp film District 9 (South Africa, 2009), which drew significant protes t from Nigerians as well as the Nigerian government.
111 CHAPTER 5 LOCALIZATION AND MEMORY : The CINEMATIC REPRESENTATION OF SPACE Diasporic Perceptions of Place in Cinema Based on the concept of the subaltern diaspora and the dynamics within and between the subaltern landscape an I explore how the filmmaker envisions Africa and how its aesthetic representation complements the narrative. Africa has often been treated as a homogenous mass of impoverished and suppressed people and I want to examine if and how fi lms about clandestine African migrants reinscribe this image of a downtrodden, poor, and corrupt continent. Furthermore, I am addres sing the representation of the g lobal North, both in the context of space and in the context of nation state where applicabl e In her discussion of impossible homecomings in the works of Turkish German director Fatih Akin, Daniela Berghahn addresses the the host country is typically presented as a dark, claustrophobic prisonlike environment that sharply contrasts with cinematic representations of the homeland and the host space Nostalgia, Resentment, and the Re branding of Nigeria I have established in the previous chapter that Nollywood has become a truly transnational cinema in that the production of Nollywood films has crossed national boundaries Sola Osofisan was among the reviewers of This America about Nigerian immigrants in N ew York and praised this prod Nigerians in America would be mostly familiar with the scenarios Comments
112 interaction bet ween the seasoned immigrants who have established a life for themselves, and the newcomers who are struggling with illegality and/or impending loss of legal status. This situation produces a transnational discourse which these films communicate between est ablished and newly arriving immigrants and features seemingly explicit didactic modes of conversation. More specifically, I maintain that these films address the tension between migrant imagination and the representation of a social reality that the migran t encounters upon entering the imagined country of desire, which in this case is the U.S. With the physical relocation of film production into exile, U.S. based filmmakers show that the label "Nollywood," for all its pitfalls, is not dependent on a local ity, but on features and aesthetics of filmmaking that have moved beyond merely being the result of improvising to allow filmmaking despite lack of funds. Instead, they have developed cinematic conventions that exist in their own right alongside those of t heir ollywood" and other world cinema counterparts. Osofisan, Agomuoh, Mbamara, Nnorom, and Ikuenobe Otaigbe have made films that remain true to the convention of accessibility by addressing the typical localized themes within a transnational context, na mely migration and exile, and therefore create, in content and form, a fascinating transnational expression of Nollywood conventions. charact eristics that mark Nollywood as an autonomous local cinematic expression is 1). While the films I am discussing here are situated outside of Nigerian borders in production locale, setting, and spectators
113 U.S based Nigerian immigrant community. Under these terms, the films are both local and tran snational, both national and international, and both exilic and inward. That Nollywood modes of production have left the confines of the nation state convention by expa as well as a transnational imagination. Furthermore, these films do not only present stories of transnationalism by portraying Nigerian immigrants in the U.S., but they themselves embody t his form of transnationalism in production, aesthetics, and most importantly for this discussion, discourse. common about exile and diaspora, deterritorialized peoples and their films share certain features, wh Accented cinema, or films made by deterritorialized individuals, according to Naficy, needs to be viewed with the displacement of the filmmaker in mind because of accented cinema in that they employ a discourse of fragmentation, displa cement, alienation, and survival which re inscribes the political and social concern of undocumented migration. In the context of this particular analysis, I foreground the use it is, just like the aesthetics of cinematography or mise en scne reflective of the
114 fragmented nature of accented cinema, and it reflects on an edutainment discourse that is often associated with Nollywood. In these films, migrant experiences that are often represented through statistics, legal documents, and fear or pity inducing newspaper clippings are literally given faces ups. Haynes has described many medium shots and close ups that dominate Nollywood films Th e immediacy of emotions conveyed through the emphasis of immediate impact, plunging us into each momen t and milking it for everything it is (139). The predominant means of telling the story in the Nollywood tradition is through, often dramatically delivered, dialogue sequences with little or no action but extensive, often repetitive dialogue. These emotions as well as the foregrounding of dialogue giv es Nollywood films their sense of urgency and drama, which is very appropriate for films that want to make both the content and the message relatable by creating familiarity even if the films are not set in familiar places. Therefore the films reproduce th e ideology of a desirable destination America that circulates globally, but does so critically and through the perspective of the insider, the Nigerian, rather than the outsider, or the Western filmmaker and by means of cinematic aesthetics familiar to a N ollywood audience.
115 In the 2007 documentary This is Nollywood Nigerian director Bond Emeruwa we are This is Nollywood ). Emeruwa continues to narrate that Nollywood films reach about 90% of the population and that they are the most productive way to inform and educate viewers. Indeed many Nollywood fil ms carry moral messages, statements, and warnings and can appear very didactic. The transnational potential of Nollywood as a means for exiles to stay in touch with their being done on film, is allowing us to impact on the culture of African children living abroad. ( This is Nollywood ). The three films mentioned above represent t his for m of edutainment discourse formation. In addition, the fairly obvious didacticism, which I will address in more detail further below, gives the impression of an attempt to correct the image of America that draws immigrants even if they cannot obtain legal papers The DVD case of This America Americ a] What we heard and what it is of whom wears traditional Nigerian dress to indi cate that he has just arrived while the other, the seasoned Nigerian immigrant, is dressed in Western clothes. In fact, when asked why he made This America wrong impression of the west. They have the assump tion that life here is a bed of roses and that is not the case . The main purpose is to ensure that Africans thinking of
116 relocating a dialogue between the filmmaker aka seasoned im migrant and the immigrant to be is directly recreated in all three films. diaspora h ave an identity in their homeland before their departure, and their diasporic identity is constructed in resonance w 14, emphasis in original). on and its 14). In all films, this collective is assumed through the interaction of people with the same origin and the same destination, but it is also presented as fragmented and strained by differing perceptions and imaginations of that origin a nd destination. This leads to the migrant specific communication and processes of discourse correction expatriates and Nigerians without proper papers. For immigrants with valid immigration documents and work permits, economic survival is obviously less of a challenge than for those without legal papers, because their predominant concern is avoiding detection, which profoundly limits their opportunities to ensure economic s urvival for themselves, families, and communities at home. For the transnational subject who does not have legal status or has gained legal status through illegal action, agency is severely restricted, which shapes discourse formation in the negotiation of the new transnational living space. With Missing in America New Jersey based Nigerian director webmaster, and poet Sola Osofisan addresses the multiple layers of challenges that the subaltern
117 diaspora poses. P rota gonist Agatha travels from Lagos to Ne w York with fraudulent documents and under the pseudonym Tonia to find her husband Fela (Sola Osofisan himself) who has been in the U.S. for five years, but recently visited Nigeria. During this visit Agatha became pregnant and unable to reach her husband by phone or letter, she now tries to find and inform him of the pregnancy. She visits the address he left for her, only to learn that he has not been there in years. Unable to find shelter after being turned down by a Nigerian expatriate who used to be Fel nothing to do with newly arrived compatriots, she wanders aimlessly through a hostile New York and New Jersey landscape. Eventually she col lapses at the doorstep of Bimbo, an established and successful Nigerian immigrant who relucta ntly takes her in. Bimbo suspects that Agatha is an illegal immigrant who wants to stay in the United that he is now married to an American woman in an attempt to obtain a green card. After authorities, Agatha decides to return to Nigeria to raise her child with the help of her family. In a parallel plot, Bimbo finds love and enters a relationship with another legal and established Nigerian immigrant. The opening credits are accompanied by establishing shots of the urban center New York City in which the plot is set, but the sequence also reflects on the transnational journey of the protagonist. A fade replaced by a train arriving at the station and then again by shots of fairly generic New York street scenes, presumably of Time Square. These images then again fade into
118 overhead shots of Ellis Island and what might be Manhattan Bridge, as well as several New York street scenes. The sequence ends with an overhead shot of Manhattan which slowly fades out and into the beginning of the narrative. The opening sequence emphasizes the role of New York as a place of immigration which is represented by landmarks such as the statue of liberty and its association with freedom, but also through images that are associated with immigratio n and journeying, such as Ellis Island and the train station, as well as travel images, such as tourists snapping pictures. This overall portrayal of the urban space creates an impression of openness, grandiosity, and vibrancy. After the opening sequence, the film immediately cuts to a medium shot of Agatha at the doorstep of a New Jersey apartment. While the transition might be abrupt, it also highlights that the personal immigrant story remains embedded Duri ng the course of the film, Agatha moves through a variety of different spaces. 1 After learning that her husband is not at the New Jersey address, Agatha makes her way back to the city. We see her walking though a rainy and dreary New Jersey suburb along a street that is completely empty except for the occasional car. It is raining and Agatha is obviously not dressed warmly enough. This is a typical example of what Haynes has called the hardship/alienation sequence that are so often employed in Nollywood fi carrying their shoulder bags, through the str diegetic music emphasizes a sense of alienation and loneliness th at recreates the position of the new immigrant in this diasporic space. 1 Missing in America features a remarkable amount of exterior shots, which is rather atypical for Nollywood films. Traditionally most of the action in Nigerian video films takes place in interior setting s.
119 Symbols of movement and journey typical for accented cinema are used here as well, such as train stations and the inside of the train when Agatha travels from New Jersey back to New Yo rk City. When Agatha exits Penn Station the film shows us a changed cityscape. The weather here, too, is grey and rainy and despite the presence of people hurrying along as well as the notorious traffic, Agatha again appears lonely and isolated. Not only h er suitcase, but also her reluctant way of walking slowly, as if searching for something, marks her as a non local. We are now looking at the city from her perspective and instead of looking down through overhead shots, we are forced to look up at the skys crapers that rise up almost threateningly under a dark grey sky. The images of New York as a dream destination for hopeful immigrants that introduced the film have now turned into a representation of urbanity that is confusing and alienating. Unable to fi nd Fela in New York City and refused a place to sleep by her walking along the suburban street, only this time the scenery seems even more hostile and on top of it all, it is n ow snowing. It seems as if with every disappointment the protagonist experiences and the prospect of finding a place for the night fading, the outside shots become more dreary and depressing. Interestingly, the portrayal of the city changes once again in a later scene. Agatha is in a taxi on her way to where Fela supposedly lives. During her conversation with the taxi driver, who speaks to her as if established, a sequence of urban images appears, including shots of New York skyscrapers and a rather beautiful overhead shot of the city and the river. But as soon
120 as the taxi driver leaves her behind, taking with him her suitcase and purse, we see her once again walking throu gh rainy and dreary New Jersey suburbia. theme of navigating the foreign space is quite obviously represented through prolonged scenes of Agatha walking through different landscap es. 2 While Missing in America features the typical establishing shots of urbanity that are so often seen in Nollywood films it also includes more outside scenes in which the character navigat es the cityscape, which is not conventional for Nollywood films, but very typical for accented cinema. The explicit positioning of Agatha in New York City street scenes and empty from the transnational location for which she is not prepare d. On the other hand, American life is after all accessible for immigrants, but only for those who arrive with a plan. reen card shots of New York street scenes fade into each other. Her off screen voice suggests that she does not participate in the street life of American consumerism a nd potential success. She remains removed from the urban space because she does not desire to become part of the diaspora, which she does not believe she could negotiate as an images of New York City that accompany the voiceover are heavily marked by 2 Haynes observes that in Nollywood films, both domestic and diasporic, that are set abroad, the keep social relationships in order to obtain the ne
121 consumerism and show the typical New York shopping scenery with flashy and classy obse of consumerism is n ot willing to pay the price for being part of it. Although the film acknowledges, through Bimbo, that it is possible to settle down and live the American dream even as an immigrant, it emphasizes that this is certainly not true for everyone In Missing in America and This America immigration tropes are consciously placed and the films are first and foremost about the Nigerian immigrant experience while the migrant experience is only part of a complex series of events in Ikuenobe The God Daughter However, the relationships between the characters in the films exemplify the ever changing diasporic identity in terms of how they incorporate their perceptions of both the United States and Nigeria into their interaction and evaluation of themselves and e ach other. All films clearly demarcate the line between the seasoned immigrant and the newcomer and within this dynamic, the settled character takes on the role of the mentor: as a legalized immigrant, Bimbo of Missing in America takes on the responsibilit y to teach Agatha about the realities of America as well as of Nigerian immigrants in America. In This America Eddie a ssumes the same role for Ozobio and in The God Daughter Nina and Basil take the newcomer Biu under their wing.
122 The films emphasize th eir edutainment component through dialogue, which explicitly recreates the importance of identity within the dynamics of teacher student relationships that ar e suggested in the narratives. Missing in America re inscribes the ignorance of newly arrived Agat ha through portraying the differences between American Missing in America ) before she proceeds to serve her the all American clearly separates the women based on their degree of familiarity with American culture. Later in the film, B imbo suggests getting fast food for dinner because she does not cook, which is far from acceptable from Agatha who insists on cooking Nigerian food. association with typical Am ericana symbols such as her suburban home and luxurious car that are put on display to dazzle the non privileged Nigerian newcomer. At the same Nigerian culture. The fragme ntation and negotiation of the immigrant identity suggested by Naficy is portrayed through stereotyping and rebranding Nigeria as a place where Bimbo reacts to a call from her brother, who is in Nigeria, wit h annoyance, especially when she learns of the contemporary Nigerian practice of flashing 3 It seems as if Nigeria has become a somewhat obscur e place full of people who do not 3 To flash someone is to call the person and hang up before s/he can answer the phone. This indicates a request to return the call and take on the charges.
123 understand ve to six hour Missing in America ), and pass on her address to strangers (Agatha). Furthermore, Bimbo without proper contacts and invading the privacy of a stranger (herself). The rift between the Americanized immigrant and the Nigerian, both at home and newly arrived, takes place in a transnational space in which differences are communicated with a rhet technically part of the same (Nigerian) community, but are divided by their differing transnational identities. With the alienation from the home country and identification with the new transnational sp ace comes a sentiment of suspicion with regards to Nigerians the JJC an inch or he 4 But the newly arrived immigrants are not only a nuisance; they are also seen as a potential threat to the reputation of legalized The God Daughter ). When Bimbo Missing in America ). This suspicion is unfounded because Agatha does not intend to stay, but it reflects on the ever changing imagination, not only of the host country, but also of the home country Nigeria. 4 JJC is Nigerian slang for a
124 sometimes condescending attitude towards Nigeria and Nigerians, the films illustrate changes that of the country left behind. In the films, it seems as if with the green card comes a questionable enlightenment of sorts that Nige rians at home are greedy, that newly arrived immigrants are either nave or corrupt, and that assimilation to American culture is tough but nece ssary. In order to become a reputable resident in America, certain rules have to be followed and certain things are to be avoided and the new immigrant better learn fast. The exchange between the characters suggests that there is no collective perception of the homeland within the immigrant community because the transnational space has created differing degrees of identification with both the home and the host country. Furthermore, Nigeria itself appears in many conversations not as a place of longing, but a pl ace a person has left behind an exposure to which, for example through meeting newly arrived immigrants, potentially creates annoyance and inconvenience: Missing in America ). Bimbo and Agatha eventually overcome their differences and collaborate in finding A process), but the initial hostility between them is largely depicted through the lens of transcultural differences and suggests the complexity of differing immigrant experiences even if the migrants share a countr y of origin. As This America illustrates, it is not always the allure of America, but also the instability of Nigeria that leads to the
125 that his job is lost and hears a bout the currently unstable political condition in Nigeria. Throughout the film, Nigeria is largely presented as a place of unrest and instability. political situation fo from the rest of them? [Government members will] stuff their pockets with money that This America ). The longing for a return to the homeland is replaced with a longing for the opportunity of not having to return, which is a significant factor in the representation of The film addresses the comp lexity of illegal migration in that it acknowledges that transnational migration is not only about entering a country, but also about leaving another and not having to return. The negative rebranding of Nigeria on part of the legalized immigrant contrasts the notion of the idealized homeland suggested by Naficy, but could be an expression of the tension between the desire to return and the diasporic identity rooted in exile. This struggle, however, is not only created by the immigration policies of the host Missing in America lament not only offers a perspective on America, but also on Nigeria, which once again becomes a p lace where people expect things from America that it cannot necessarily deliver. Immigrants are therefore not only pressured by the limitations of their
126 undocumented status, but by the reputation of America in Nigeria as being a place where anyone can make money. 5 While Nigeria is turned into a space from which the immigrant is bound to be alienated, the image of America as land of easy access to opportunity is consistently corrected. The desirability to stay in America is directly linked with the immi possession of papers, therefore the green card is one of the most prevalent divisive symbols in the films and it is portrayed as both object of desire and object of corruption. Significantly, the importance of the green card is communicated from th e established immigrant to the rookie and is part of the discourse that dominates the relationships between the legalized and the undocumented migrant. Early on in This America Eddie marriages: also the most Americanized although they have not necessarily been in the country longer than those without permanent residency. The emphasis on the green card as an object of desire but also of corruption complicates the way in which it is often imagined, namely as a key to the door of opportunity. Instead, obtaining the green card be comes a dangerous process and its allure goes beyond a legalized stay and takes on existential This America ). Ironically, into 5 The theme of pressure on the immigrant to succeed abroad is illustrated in another film by a Nigerian expatriate. In My American Nurse e faces disappointment and ridicule about his lack of success abroad.
127 quite possibly gets killed by his green card wife, which suggests that the promise of security that the document is supposed to provide does not hold up. Howeve r, the absence of the green card creates anxiety and dependence which is illustrated through Ozobio and Eddie who both initially stay with abusive wives because their legal status depends on upholding the marriage for the legally required If I divorce Anita now, I kiss my green card goodbye. She is my only This America ). Both Missing in America and This America include highly dramatic scenes in which the green card wives threaten their Nigerian husband s with reporti ng them to the authority and therefore initiating their deportation. This America introduces the scenario of the blackmailed husband early on when Eddie refuses to give his American wife Anita the drug money she asks for and instead attempts to take their This America ). In a strikingly similar scene in Missing in America she learns that h e already has a wife in Agatha who unexpectedly appears at their doorstep. The green card therefore becomes a key symbol not only of access to opportunity, but also as an object of tension because it leads to corruption, it leads husbands astray, and it in itiates unhappy marriages with unwanted children. With his marriage to Jeannie, Ozobio betrays his promise to his Nigerian fiance to return home. her by entering another marriage without her knowledge. Both films ther efore turn the imagination of the green card as a way to opportunity into a discourse that suggests that the greed for the green card destroys families and, since it is conceivable that Ozobio does not survive the shooting at the end
128 of This America quite literally lives. And even when green card marriages seem to turn into loving unions, those are also doomed to fail. Eddie eventually reaches his goal and is granted his temporary residence card after a successful immigration interview. And although at the same time, his marriage to Anita seems to develop into a legitimate relationship, the film does not allow a happy ending for Eddie who breaks up with her after learning that she had an affair. The bleak ending of This America emphasizes the illegal immig we are s imply This America ). It is suggested that American individualism necessitates neglecting the communal concern that is represented as part of the Nigerian identity for the sake of embracing Am erican apartment, it is not my business. You have to learn to look the other way This America ). The irony of this statement is revealed at the end of the film when Ozobio, she meets the former roommate of her husband Fela who informs her that he has not seen Fela in a neighbors and not talk to each other for months. We would still be frie Missing in America ) And in a conversation with a taxi driver during which Agatha complains about
129 Missing in America ). America is consistently redefin ed, or rebranded, as place of struggle and a necessity for survival skills. The god daughter Biu spends her day sleeping late and staying out at night, and at some point her fed her sleeping schedule. However els The God Daughter ). Later in the film, Biu is told by her Nigerian boyfriend (who is also her pimp) opportunity is once aga in replaced with tropes of warfare and survival of the fittest (accompanied by the visuals of the urban jungle of New York and Atlanta). This is further again husband during which he tries to expla you hear at home. You do not have any idea what it takes to live in this country as an Missing in America ). This expression of expectations is echoed i n all these films and it is repeatedly expressed that living in America without legal documents is a constant struggle for survival which is bound to corrupt the immigrant. These images of warfare and survival are extended into an interesting distinction b etween the good and the bad Nigerian immigrant. The good immigrant is the hard working individual while the bad Nigerian immigrants deceive the women they marry for the green card, make a living through fraud and deception, and lie to their families in Nig eria about the ways in which they have acquired the money and goods they send home on a regular basis.
130 The characters acting as mentors of sorts are also concerned with protecting the reputation of the Nigerian immigrant community. Bimbo blames Agatha fo r only coming to America to ensure her child becomes a citizen because to her, that is common into this country, they are hot cake. Guys everywhere. Before you know it, they have ruined their The God Daughter uncle right as she becomes part of the criminal underbelly of the Nig erian immigrant community in which she works as a prostitute and engages in theft and similar crimes. For this particular part of the collective, legal status is not important because they are, at least in this film, far beyond any concern with the law. B ut the films not only portray the (sometimes obnoxiously heavy handed) instruction of the rookie immigrant, they also offer examples of how the rookies wise up. In a voiceover at the end of Missing in America alongside visuals of the urban jungle of New Y free to go back home now. America. America is a dream. For some it becomes a beautiful reality. For others, it is just a nightmare. It takes a special hunger to live in A And because she is not hungry enough, she decides to return to Nigeria. The voiceover summarizes the trope of America as an imagination diegetic voice suggests th at she can now speak as an authority after what she has gone through. This America ends on a similar note with a summary of its overall message, but does so through song. During the end credits, Soprano Lisa Marie sings a song written by Oliver Mbamara
131 (wh o also wrote the story the film is based on). The lyrics, like the voiceover at the end of Missing in America heavy have come. Strangers we are to the culture. America . We come not to live her e. We find out we cannot live . And though dearly we miss home, we have reason to stay here America. And for problems that we face, America, we shall not blame This America ). In both cases, the message remains ambiguous in that it em phasizes the hardship newly arriving Nigerians will face, but also acknowledges that for some immigrants, there is no return Instead of homeland nostalgia the films emphasize the tension of adapting to a new transnational space. The aforementioned This America feature s a beginning sequence that closely resembles that of Missing in America which establishes the urban setting through a series of shots of New York City. However, this film features more realistic and fewer stereotypical New York City land marks. Besides busy street scenes and people hurrying along Grand Central Station, the camera moves up skyscrapers and shows an American flag. The images are less romanticized than in Missing in America but they, too, include the train station as a symbol of journeying. Eventually, the film cuts from the top of a skyscraper to the protagonist, Eddie, in his taxi. The transition from the establishing shots of the city to the beginning of the narrative is once again abrupt, going from long shots to medium an d close ups without transition and creating a sense of moving from the larger transnational context, signified by the cosmopolitan urban center, to the more personal and intimate story. Unlike most other Nollywood films, but like Missing in America much o f the plot related action takes place outside, and
132 different parts of the city and not all of them are related to the migration theme of the film. The outlook on migration is just as pessimistic as it is in Missing in America Agatha consumer culture, but al so the Nigerian expatriate community in New York. Oz obio, on the other hand, integrate s himself into this space through his green card marriage, but he remains vulnerable and ultimately becomes a victim of this vulnerability. y is the only Nollwood film herein, except for a very brief scene in Missing in America that is partially set in Nigeria. However, apart from the opening shot of the Nigerian city street, all Nigerian scenes are in rural setting and form a stark contrast to American urbanity. Following his unsuccessful search for a experiencing America as a place of betrayal and lies in which he is forced to engage in crime and fraud he longs for the peace and familiarity of Nigeria represented through the calmness of villages and nature, as opposed to the busy American urban cente adorned back alley by the back America is a hopeless place for immigrants and there are no established well to do Nigerian expatriates to be found anywhere. wn Country offers an interesting take on the space Nige ria, which is commonly associated with crime, fraud, and
133 corruption. For Ike, America is the place that introduces him to criminal activity while is the only one in which Nigeria is re branded into a desirable space to which the protagonist would return if it offered more opportunity. At the same time, Ike never gains access to the established immigrant community in New York like his counterparts Ozobio and Agatha. The edu tainment discourse expresses the difficulties of navigating a transnational space in which the migrant is legally non existent and severely limited in his or her movement. The use of characters who act as mentors reveals a rather obvious didacticism, but a lso emphasizes the transnational tension among immigrants of the same origin and with the same destination, but with differing diasporic identities. This tension reflects on the fragmentation and alienation that accompanies exilic filmmaking and its peculi ar position between transnational locales. Migration, and especially transcultural migration, always necessitates forms of identity negotiation and the byproduct of identity formation in terms of adapting to the new environment is a process both the host nation and the home country (Elsaesser). To a large extent, the films rebrand America to correct misconceptions of a land of plenty while to a certain extent also rebranding Nigeria. In this sense, the narratives reformulate the existing di migration. Media images create imaginations in the viewer and the imaginations of America trigger desires to migrate. In the case of the films I discussed, the negotiation of the transn ational discourse serves not only to create these imaginations, but to correct existing ones. The production of films about a place of desire within that very
134 place of desire by filmmakers who are living the desired live in the diaspora creates an ambiguou the question is if and when these films will reach the audience that would be in the position of the undocumented and therefore struggling characters because of the problems of most of my movies have not been released in Nigeria because of several logistic factors. But we hope to release them The films succeed in separating individual migration experiences from the macro level discourse of diaspora and transnationalism. While many European art house cinema and Hollywood films present the experience of undocumented migration in abstracted forms that are conveyed through subtle cinematography and comparably subdued dialogue, these films quite literally tell it how it is or how the diasporic filmmaker sees it. The transnational mode of production and the exilic position of the filmmaker create an interesting and innovative new spin on Nollywood and certainly these films exploit the conventions that work for them, such as the dialogue and focus on individuals and their interaction. Characters have histories and relationships. Alienation, Loneliness, and Death In his stark and caustic 1999 film Otomo about the real events surrounding the death of an African immigrant and two police officers in Stuttgart, Germany, Frieder Schlaich, like the Dardenne brothers and Montxo Armendriz, employs conventions of a as unremittingly on alterity as a seemingly unsoluble problem, on conflict of either intercultural or intracultural v cinema of the affected is commonly associated with German films about Turkish guest
135 workers in which the Turkish woma n suffers under both the patriarchal suppression of her husband and her alienating reality in a xenophobic Germany. While it is true that with German filmmakers like the aforementioned Yksel Yavuz and his even more successful colleague Fatih Akin, German filmmaking seems to ha ve moved beyond the cinematic downtrodden Turk, the same cannot be said for African immigrants in German cinema. With Otomo Schlaich cinematically imagines the last day in the life of Frederic Otomo, a Cameroonian asylum seeker who se seemingly mundane encounter in a subway over a ticket lead to a manhunt across Stuttgart and the deaths of two policemen and Otomo himself. The film begins with a dark room illuminated only by the reflection of the street lights on the ceiling. Suddenly a match is struck and someone lights a candle. The now visible alarm clock shows the time as almost 4am. We see up and his eyes move around, as if he has just woken up. Through a sequence of extreme close up shots, we witne ss what appears to be clothing from the wash line and listen to sinister music until the film cuts to a medium close up of Otomo in the shower. At first we only see his back and a fter the darkness of the room, the white tiles seem very bright against his dark body and have a prison like quality as if to suggest that the black body is engulfed by a white prison. The music has stopped and the diegetic sound of the shower adds a new u rgency to the events on the screen. Next Otomo is back in his room and begins to gather his belongings and pack a suitcase. When he stops to look in the mirror, a stoic expression is reflected back to us. sense of discomfort on part of the
136 viewer because being so close to the intimacy of his room contrasts the unfamiliarity of the face in the mirror. With this first scene, Schlaich establishes that Otomo perso nifies the stranger we are afraid of and who fa scinates us at the same time. The same sense is evoked when the two policemen who will later chase Otomo through the city see him for the first time. At this point, he has not yet become a fugitive. The police car is parked in front of the employment age ncy in which Otomo inquires in search for work. Otomo stands at the illuminated window, framed by the window frame. This time, we see him from a distance and the darkness outside the window evokes the image of a voyeur hiding in the dark. The voyeuristic g aze follows Otomo throughout the film. A stranger at the employment agency follows him to the tram and continuously stares at him. In the tram, Otomo notices the stare of a woman. Otomo must be aware that people look at him at all times. He cannot blend in like Okwe can in Dirty Pretty Things because in 1989 Stuttgart did not have a sizable African community. The shower After a quarrel on the tram during which Omoto assaults a conductor, he flees the scene and runs through a tunnel. 6 Next we find him on the periphery of the city, as if the tunnel functions as a symbolic transition from marginalized black immigrant to highly visible criminal outcast. In a garden colony, Otomo breaks into shed. A close up of his face does not reveal much emotion, but the following overhead shot of the Stuttgart cityscape reinforces the distance between the fugitive African immigrant and the dominant culture space that is now inaccessible and who se constituents are on the hunt. The trope of voyeurism and invasion ersonal space continues when 6 was indeed valid.
137 police search the bag he left behind, which contains his most personal possessions. The camera slowly pans over letters, photographs and other pe rsonal items spread out on the table for all to see and stops at a pair of hands flipping through a small stack of personal documents. Even when Otomo kneels to pray in a church he turns around to realize that he is being watched. ion of the host nation Germany makes extensive use of the interior locations often represent claustrophobic imprisonment. In Otomo however the outside cityscape feel s claustrophobic because it evokes a panopticon in which an periphery of Stuttgart in search of an opportunity to flee the country takes him through gray and industrialized citys cape. The alienation trope is ever present, but Schlaich gives us some glimmers of hope. At a pub in which Otomo orders coffee, the waitress serves him free breakfast and later, when the police inquire about the fugitive s whereabouts, she acts as if he wa s never there. In the tranquility of a river park, he meets the only people who take a genuine interest in him. The almost immediate connection between German citizen Gisela, brought about through the intervention of o is an entirely new experience for the immigrant who in eight years in Stuttgart has never seen the inside of a German apartment. In addition to the presence of a hostile host nation, the absence of the homeland gains significan ce through highlighting the necessity to conceal real names and nationalities. Otomo lives in Germany under a false name and in order to gain asylum,
138 he claims that he is from Liberia. With his real identity as a Cameroonian from Douala with the name Frederic Otomo he does not ga in access to the privilege of being allowed deportation The practice of assuming an alternative African nationality works only as other. Schlaich highlights the general lack of knowledge on the part of both German authorities and German citizens. Even the sympathetic Gisela is fascinated by his in African dance. Ironically, the music she p lays is Senegalese (and by one of the few African musicians who is known outside of home space of Cameroon makes sense in the context of what Schlaich wanted to accomplish with the film, but it also erases a large part of the person and keeps him confined within the limits of an identity. In addition, Schlaich uses several examples of stereotypical racism on part of the German characters, bu generic Africa Otomo therefore holds up a mirror to confront German racism, but keeps the human connections between German and African individuals confined within stereotypical exchanges about African The film, like other European films about clandestine migration, does not to justice to the complexity of Africa in terms of its vast variety of nation states. Las Cartas de Alou similarly de emphasizes the spaces from which the clandestine immigrants have come. On the other hand, accented filmmakers,
139 among them the aforementioned Sissako and Soudani as well as the Nigerian filmmakers in the diaspora, and foreground the nation. Clando by Jean Marie Tno constitutes an example in which the migration experience is very closely tied to the political entity of the nation state Cameroon as well as the cityscape of Douala. S imilarly to the engagement of Nollywood films with Nigeria as a nation state and as the homeland, Clando is concerned with the nation rather than the continent and creates a palimpsestic layering of locale bound histories and social realities. In this film the clandestine migration experience is both a direct result and a reflection of life in the Cameroonian city space. The Subaltern Diaspora as a Place of Healing The films I have discussed so far, with the exception of Heremakono and Waalo Fendo are l argely set in the diaspora and the home country is evoked through connections and exchanges rather than on screen settings One film that is set in both the home and the host nation is Jean Clando ( Clandestine Cameroon, France, and Germany ). Tno was born in Cameroon in 1954 and immigrated to Paris in 1977 (only five years after Soudani). He considers himself a filmmaker whose task it is to make people aware of colonialism, but also of dictatorship and corruption in Africa. His doc umentary La tte dans les nuages ( Head in the Clouds ) from 1994 takes place in the Cameroonian city of Yao u nde and features the underbelly of the African city with rubbish heaps, corruption, and poverty. Another documentary Afrique Je Te Plumerai depicts the impact of French colonialism on Cameroon (where it was censored).
140 Clando nly feature film to date, is a film about multiple layers and multiple locales of secrecy and (in)visibility. The appeal of Clando lies in the complexity with which he emphasizes a political reality in Cameroon and connects it to issues of migration, global inequalities, and redemption. In his useful overview over Cameroonian cinema, Jean Olivier Tchouaff lists Clando alongside other, what he calls, protes (Tchouaff 72). because T dimension to the political message about stagnation, corruption, violation, and progress When the film opens, protagonist Sobgui Anatole drives an unlicensed taxi in Douala As the fragmented and jumbled parts of the film unravel, we learn that in his previous profession as a computer specialist, Sobgui becomes involved in the student resistance movement in Douala and is imprisoned and tortured. After his release, he falls i nto a depression and decides to go to Germany to help find the son of a friend who had previously escaped Douala after a similar experience with Cameroonian officials In Cologne Sobgui immerses himself into the Cameroonian community and starts a relation s hip with Irene who works for a human rights organization. In the end, Sobgui returns to Cameroon determined to stop waiting for things to change for the better Clando face of a (Tchouaff 67). However, Clando also alludes to the central theme of migra tion, movement, and stagnation
141 The title Clando describes protagonist Sobgui in several ways: In Dou ala, he is who works without a license. The clandos of Douala must be on guard not to be detected and fear the controls of their (non cab driver, Sobgui negotiates both the literal geography of the city and its metaphorical C lando Sobgui becomes a peripheral social agent and reduced of his legal mobility: he is thrown into prison, but remains mentally imprisoned even after his release and can only claim mobility that tak es place outside of what is experience as a migrant, but as the title suggests, the trope of being illegal, secret, and on the periphery is a condition that does not start in the host country. In either space, Sobgui must always keep part of his identity hidden: as a computer specialist he cannot reveal that he allows protesters to copy flyers, as a clando, he cannot reveal that his car functions as a taxi, and as an immig rant he has to hide his legal status. Touki Bouki In other words, the character can move sideways through the Douala cityscape, but is foreclosed immobility, or paralysis first becomes obvious when prison guards injure his feet to make him talk The double take on immobility through his useless feet and his imprisonment emphasizes both the political paralysis of the cou n try and the helplessness of its citizen s. S ignificantly, however, Sobgui was only a p eripheral (once again) activist in the first place which complicates the nature of persecution in the country and reflects on the chaotic political situation in post independence Cameroon. During his prison st ay, Sobgui heals enough to walk again, but even when authorities release him, his sense of imprisonment remains. He is
142 dropped off at a street corner and told to wait. Following their orders and waiting, Sobgui eventually meets his former coworker and upon learning that he has been wly regain one way of mobility by way repairing his car and making a living as a clando, his psychological paralysis remains (signified by his inab ility to have sex with his wife and the subsequent tension between them). entering the Cameroonian public space does not leave room for a spirit of resistance. His life in Douala becomes unbearable for similar reasons life in the subaltern diaspora challenges immigrants: he know s that he might be watched or not. Once again the panopticon comes to mind means decreased mobility, becomes a way of regai ning it albeit slowly and with help. Heremakono is concerned with waiting as a condition emblematic for the transitional migratory space, Clando ala and Stuttgart, as a state of traumatized complacen cy ; more importantly he waits to return to Cameroon rather than to leave it. For him the challenge does not lie in the crossing of the border, he flies into Stuttgart and pretends to be on a temporary business trip, but in the guilt of not coming to terms with his reality in Douala fleeing the challenge of fighting the system that violated his physical and psychological freedom. And Clando does not stop at international migration: two Tanzanians who were on their way to Nigeria tried to cross through Camero on without proper immigration papers and now share a cell with Sobgui. By including this internal migration theme, Tno breaks up the dichotomy of origin Africa/destination Europe and highlights the high prevalence of inter continental
143 migration in Africa. For of political intervention in Cameroon and resistance against those who violated him is unaccep table. As a human rights activi st, she sees Sob alongside others who were equally brutalized rather than in an immigrant community that is too far removed from the political upheaval to be productive in their resistance efforts Like Waalo Fendo Clando moves back and forth in time and between Douala and Stuttgart. In the film, the politics of Cameroon and Douala ar e extended into the diaspora, which also changes the dynamics between Germany and Cameroon. Within atrocities committed against him. The conscience of his German girlfriend, and ulti mately his own, do not allow for him to stay. leave Cameroon. Although the film highlights mobility and border crossings and evokes clandestine mobility through its title, political status in Germany. The important clandestine border crossing in Clando does not take place between continents or countries, but remains internal in that Sobgui is forced to negotiate his new marginaliz ed position in the political landscape of Cameroon. although she knows that it will be the end of their relationship. Petty argues that Irene embodies the well meaning European activist who makes an effort to understand, but
144 whose skepticism (Petty 175). Instead of accepting Irene as the dri Douala, Petty credits his interaction with Chamba the Cameroonian he set out to find in Germany in the first place. During his attempts to convince Chamba that there is no shame in going home without riches, Sobgui rea lizes that the same is true for himself. I would argue, however, suggests. Her companionship and work as a human rights activist keeps the pressing political needs of t roubled Cameroon in the picture, even in the diaspora. Through her words and her work, she might personify the eager but unaffected Western onlooker, but she is also the one who articulates the urgency of action. Moreover, through her Sobgui realizes that character has at least moved beyond European hostility, xenophobia, and racism. 7 Tno himself has commented on his oever reminds Africans to deal with their problems is welcome. The mutual exchange that takes place between Irene and Sobgui embodies a potent ially fruitful exchange between the political spaces Germany (and by association Europe), and Cameroon. Sobgui leaves Germany sion to return to Cameroon frees him of the 7 Tno told Ukadike that he chose the diasporic setting becaus
145 undocumented and marginalized existence in Germany, but more importantly, it allows him to shed his victimhood upon return. Sobgui returns to Cameroon with a vision. cinema in evitably arouses patriotic sentiments because it is also a state of the nation Clando most obviously takes stock of the nation by including the political context of Cameroon vis vis the diasporic space that (re) invigorates Sobgui and through the character of Irene, convinces him to go back. Germany however is not only a place of invigoration, but also of complacency and a false sense of security. Not very many films about clandestine migrants allow for happy e ndings and only a few include a voluntary return to the home country. In Clando exile becomes a space of redemption and rebirth. Jean Clando constitutes the only film of those discussed here that overtly takes inventory of the country of ori gin by recreating Cameroon as a space which violates the protagonist s right to freed om and causes severe physical and mental harm. Furthermore, the destination is based on its overt commentary on the political upheaval in Cameroon rather tha n the dichotomy of undesirable global South and alluring g central thread in Clando is the way that state controlled violence has become an accepted feature of daily life, perhaps the most visible co ntradiction posed by Cameroon's presen t state of quasi democracy ). T the very first one in that the camera moves through the streets of Douala from the perspective of a car and it seems safe to assume that on ce again Sob gui navigates the streets as a c
146 Heremakono The connection between the two films in the context of waiti ng for things to get better lies in their difference and reflects on the multiplicity through which filmmakers approach the issue of undocumented exile In diasporic filmmaking, the homeland and the host nation are always present, either on or off screen and their cinematic representations depend on a multiplicity of factors. The exilic experience takes place in both spaces even if the protagonist is physically present only in one, the multiplicity of memories and present keep the home and host space con nected. As the migrant navigates, physically or mentally, both spaces, his/her interaction with constituents, either through memory or present, creates diasporic spaces that incorporate multiple global locales: Keeping in mind that notions of locality or c ommunity refer both to a demarcated physical space and to clusters of interaction, we can see that the identity of a place emerges by the intersection of its specific involvement in a system of hierarchically organized spaces with its cultural construction as a community or locality. (Gupta and Ferguson 36)
147 CHAPTER 6 CONCLUSION In my discussion of the cinematic representations of a subaltern African diaspora I h ave directed attent ion to the imaginations of the g lobal North in n ulle part and Heremakono and addressed the significance of spaces as transitional zones in an attempt to de Transitional zones can be physical spaces on land or at sea, but they can also be internal spaces consist ing of internal division and alienation such as experienced by Abdallah who both physically and psychological remains in transit Heremakono through the seemingly unconquera ble dunes that prevent departure and the implicit dangers of the sea that releases a dead body onto the sand. Similarly, Waalo Fendo and Las Cartas de Alou pick up the ever present topic of immigrants crossin g the sea into Italy and Spain through images of immigrant boats and dangerous water crossings Not all films about clandestine migration actually visually recreate the journey, but those that do consistently use the trope of sea travel. The new African diaspora is shaped by the circulation of labor, w hich creates complex laborscapes in which migrants, nationals and documented and undocumented workers interact for mutual benefit or unilateral exploitation. Few films allow for a resistance of the cinematic clandestine worker, but with Las Cartas de Alou and Waalo Fendo the filmmakers added a layer to the migration discourse in which undocumented migrants step out of their visibility and resist. These two films, along with La Promesse and Dirty Pretty Things also recreate urban spaces in which worker pro vide accommodation and services without having access to the dominant cultural space to
148 which they are invisible. Clandestine laborscapes take the form of farms, street vending, construction sites, and hotels and the migrant characters with their labor ser vice the on screen host society. At the same time, the workers have to sell out to the middlemen who exploit them. With diasporic Nollywood films, Nigerian migr filmmakers have taken a filmmaking tradition that is genuinely African and added their own ac cent. The transnational significance of these films is profound both in terms of their treatment of diasporic video films furthermore appropriately challenges the assu mption there only is one neutral mode of filmmaking (Hollywood). Clearly, U.S. based Nigerian filmmakers borrow heavily from Nollywood filmmaking traditions and aesthetics in an attempt at providing familiarity for their diasporic audience. With the use of close ups, interior locations, and video film equipment, Nigerian filmmakers in the United States have transported a formerly exclusively West African convention of filmmaking into the West. An existence in exile changes our relationship with the homelan d and the new home profoundly. For exilic filmmakers, the task is to represent either space in them. The variety of ways in which continents, nations, cities, and, int ernal spaces are reproduced and visualized in clandestine migration cinema seems to defy categorization at this point. However, the relationship between on relationship with these spaces are often obvious and relevant. Acc ented Nollywood filmmakers for example, challenge
149 filmmaking in that they situate the homeland Nigeria within a contemporary context of living there and experiencing hardship. The cinematic Nigeri an home country is often chaotic, dangerous, corrupt, or lacking opportunity. In the case of however, this role as taken on by the United States and Nigeria is instead presented as a sanctuary or a place of conflict, which is, h owever, w orth fighting for. sentiment with regards to the story of Otomo was to hold up a mirror and confront a Africa that is still disturbingly prevalent outside of the continent Jean diasporic background on the other hand, most likely has been the reason for the multiple geographical layers of Clando One of the main differences between documented and undocumented migration, I argue, is the degree to which the migrant is vulnerable. The lack of legal documents obviously complicates life in the diaspora, but the vulnerability extends in to the lack of mobility. For the subaltern migrant, the place, but also constitutes the pressure which keeps many of them from returning. In Clando Chamba explains hi s refusal to return to D ouala by saying that he cannot return empty handed. Alou, Yaro, and Demba keep their living conditions in the diaspora secret and keep up the myth of a prosperous North in their letters home. Lastly, r eturns, homecomings, and death are common and important themes in futile and successful struggle to return (with possible death). In cinema of clandestine
150 migration, moving out of subaltern exile is even more complicated because an u ndocumented status always potentially makes exile temporary : the individual can be deported at any time. The subaltern diaspora shapes and reshapes itself and the representations of most filmmakers do not allow for the se ttlement of the undocumented African individual in the host nation state. The movement out of the diaspora can mean many things: arrest and forceful removal from the host nation as in Las Cartas de Alou voluntary return to the home country as in Clando an d Dirty Pretty Things death as in La Promesse and Waalo Fendo or an uncertain future as once again in La Promesse and Waalo Fendo as well as in I have discussed the significance of border crossings, both internally and externally of undocumented migrants in terms of navigating the geographical constraints created by a capitalist world order. I argued, along with Appadurai, that border crossings but also returns, are triggered by imaginations shaped circulating images. On the flipside the departure from the subaltern diaspora can also be a result of a shattering of dreams and the revision of the imaginations. Even the death of cinematic characters takes inventory of the homeland ause it reinforces uprootedness Returns, homecomings, and death are common and important themes in migrant successful struggle to return (with possible death). T he multiplicity that characterizes the films I have included in this discussion reveals and confirms that the representation of exile, undocumented or not, has moved beyond binaries of us and them, self and other, North and South, and rich and poor. This analysis and discussion is far from exhaustive and much more work is needed to
151 successfully shape and expand the migration discourse as well as transnational cinema scholarship to include clandestine migration cinema in general and African clandestine migr La Promesse to more political engagements as in Clando and the fusion of Nollywood and migration cinema in T his America and Missing in America become increasingly transnational, diverse, and complicated. In recent decades, international filmmakers have attempted to capture the obscurity of unaut horiz ed border crossings and recreated narratives of migration from the African continent into Europe. These films emphasize the perspective of the migrant who is forced to navigate an often hostile and unwelcoming environment. The problematic position of poor un authoriz ed immigr ants in the diaspora reflects back on the global inequalities between the North and South. Moreover the production of the se films represents the creation of imaginations in that they are fict ionaliz ed, filmed, and released back into the global flow of imag es that informs global constituents about the North (and the South, for that matter) and therefore creates imaginations that trigger new migratory movements. Transnational cinema then becomes both the vehicle and the embodiment of the traveling images that represent and create dreams of participating in the opportunities that the global North appears to offer.
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159 FILMOGRAPHY C l ando DVD. Dir. Jean Marie Tno. Arte, 1996. Dirty Pretty Things DVD. Dir. Stephen Frears. Celador Films, 2002. Dollars and Dreams West Africans in New York Dir. Jeremy Rocklyn. Blue Saxophone Films, 2007. DVD. Dir. Femi Agbaye wa. Real Livin Films, 2006. Heremakono DVD. Dir. Abderrahmane Sissako. Duo Films, 2002. Kleine Freiheit DVD. Dir.Yksel Yavuz. Peter Stockhaus Film/Hamburg, Cotta Media Entertainment/Berlin, 2002. La Promesse DVD. Dir. Jean Pierre and Luc Dardenne. Eurimages, 1996. Las Cartas de Alou DVD. Dir. Montxo Armendariz. Manga Films SL, 1990. Missing in America Chronicles & Concepts Inc., 2004. Names Live Nowhere Videocassette. Dir. Dominiqu e Loreau. Artmattan Productions, 1994. Otomo DVD. Dir. Frieder Schlaich. GArtMattan Productions, 2000. The God Daughter DVD. Dir. Eve Ikuenobe Otaigbe. Afrimedia Entertainment Prod., 2006. VCD. Dir. Bethels Agom uoh. African Film Company Inc., 2005. This is Nollywood DVD. Dir. Franco Sacchi and Robert Caputo. CDIA and Eureka Films, 2007. Waalo Fendo DVD. Dir. Mohammed Soudani. Amka Films Productions SA, Televisione Svizzera, 1996.
160 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Claudia Hofffman received her b Germany in 1999, her m doctorate from the University of Florida in 2010. During her graduate studies, she focused on fil m and media s tudies and African s tudies with special emphasis on African film and migration narratives. Her studies included research and Yoruba language study at Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile Ife, Nigeria during the summer of 2008. In July 2010, she will begin a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of California at Los Angeles to continue her current research.