‘A fit of absence of mind’?: Empire and Urban Life

Cinquegrani, Maurizio (2011) ‘A fit of absence of mind’?: Empire and Urban Life. Early Popular Visual Culture, 9 (4). pp. 325-336. ISSN 1746-0654 . (Access to this publication is restricted)

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17460654.2011.621322

Abstract

This article assembles a narrative of imperialist influences on the city and its cinematic representation in actuality films of China and South Africa. Industrialization and technological progress redefined western urban cultures, and film captured on the screen these expressions of modern life in the city. Modern imperialism, on the other hand, emerged as part of a culture of modernisation in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and played a significant part in the definition of narratives of British modernity. In early non-fiction films, imperialism was a discourse which legitimised Britain as a country whose superiority over colonised peoples was a cultural foundation of its modernity. In an era when anxiety about slum conditions and urban degeneration coexisted with state-managed urban development, imperialism was one of the dominant discourses to emerge from films of British and colonial cities. It was present in the films, but other aspects of the society were not. Early cinema evaded crucial topics such as urban poverty and perpetuated an ideological view of reality seen through the eyes of middle-class filmmakers unconcerned with urban deprivation. Nevertheless, their films reveal aspects of the nature of urban society, and record the importance of self-regulation and movement in the city. This investigation aims at contextualizing this governance of conduct as it emerged from the business of movement in the cities of the empire, and the order within this movement.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: China Africa Film City
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
P Language and Literature > PB Modern European Languages (inc film, TV and radio studies) > PB2994 Film Studies
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of Arts > Film
Depositing User: Maurizio Cinquegrani
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2012 15:06
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2013 09:29
Resource URI: http://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/31656 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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