International Handbooks on Gender series
Edited by Jill Steans and Daniela Tepe
Chapter 37: Cinema and film
What is it about a visual medium, largely meant to entertain, that demands critical attention from those of us interested in the supposedly ‘high politics’ and ‘serious business’ of the ‘global’ – war, conflict, political economy, security, development – and all the practices, and significantly people, in between and on the margins and bottom rungs? More pressing perhaps is why should feminists turn to film (or go to the cinema!) when crisis appears to best capture the current affective state of world politics? Are films not escapes from the quotidian, rather than sites of critical inquiry? And significantly, what is the relationship between film, world politics and gender? These are but a few relevant questions when thinking through film, cinema and the politics of gender in ‘making the world go round’ (Enloe, 1989). Focusing on film is an immediate attempt to both call into question the ‘real’ and insert the political where both reproductions of dominant gendered orders and challenges to the real through the reel necessarily and significantly evacuate the comfort zone of claims to truth, reality and the so-called objective in world politics. The chapter will attempt to tease out some feminist insights into the cinematic, as well as grapple more generally with how film and cinema operate as sites where gender and world politics – and the intimate relationship between the two – are fundamentally made and unmade.
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