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Hollywood’s Africa after 1994

Edited by MaryEllen Higgins

“Chinua Achebe shocked Western sensibilities in 1977 when he criticized Joseph Conrad in Heart of Darkness for reducing Africa to a mere ‘setting and backdrop’ for white consciousness to act out its ‘metaphysical battlefield.’ Hollywood’s Africa after 1994 exposes major Western filmmakers and their celebrity casts who still don’t get the message. They continue to focus on themselves with their cameras and projectors and not on Africa, yet thinking they come close to it, they shed crocodile tears.”

Charles Cantalupo, Distinguished Professor of English, Comparative Literature and African Studies at Penn State University, and author of Joining Africa: From Anthills to Asmara

“Scholars and advanced students in African studies, media studies, postcolonial studies, and international studies will find a lot to learn from (Hollywood’s Africa) and to like about it…. Most valuable…is how it illustrates an underlying tension in human rights films set in Africa: the way they seem to take on, even challenge, the messy politics of the day, yet almost always fall back to the standard tropes about Africa and our engagement with it.”

H-Net (H-Diplo)

Hollywood’s Africa after 1994 investigates Hollywood’s colonial film legacy in the postapartheid era, and contemplates what has changed in the West’s representations of Africa. How do we read twenty-first-century projections of human rights issues—child soldiers, genocide, the exploitation of the poor by multinational corporations, dictatorial rule, truth and reconciliation—within the contexts of celebrity humanitarianism, “new” military humanitarianism, and Western support for regime change in Africa and beyond? A number of films after 1994, such as Black Hawk Down, Hotel Rwanda, Blood Diamond, The Last King of Scotland, The Constant Gardener, Shake Hands with the Devil, Tears of the Sun, and District 9, construct explicit and implicit arguments about the effects of Western intervention in Africa. Do the emphases on human rights in the films offer a poignant expression of our shared humanity? Do they echo the colonial tropes of former “civilizing missions?” Or do human rights violations operate as yet another mine of sensational images for Hollywood’s spectacular storytelling?

The volume provides analyses by academics and activists in the fields of African studies, English, film and media studies, international relations, and sociology across continents. This thoughtful and highly engaging book is a valuable resource for those who seek new and varied approaches to films about Africa.

Contributors
Harry Garuba and Natasha Himmelman
Margaret R. Higonnet, with Ethel R. Higgonet
Joyce B. Ashuntantang
Kenneth W. Harrow
Christopher Odhiambo
Ricardo Guthrie
Clifford T. Manlove
Earl Conteh-Morgan
Bennetta Jules-Rosette, J. R. Osborn, and Lea Marie Ruiz-Ade
Christopher Garland
Kimberly Nichele Brown
Jane Bryce
Iyunolu Osagie
Dayna Oscherwitz

MaryEllen Higgins is an associate professor of English at the Greater Allegheny Campus of Pennsylvania State University. She is the coauthor of The Historical Dictionary of French Cinema. Her publications include articles and book chapters in Research in African Literatures, Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, African Literature Today, Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Perspectives on African Literatures at the Millennium, and Broadening the Horizon: Critical Introductions to Amma Darko.

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Paperback
978-0-8214-2015-7
Retail price: $28.95, S.
Release date: November 2012
288 pages
Rights:  World

Electronic
978-0-8214-4433-7
Release date: November 2012
Rights:  World

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