David Cameron’s speech on multiculturalism a few months ago spurred a lot of analysis, attracting both appreciation as well as consternation from the most unexpected quarters. The question is, are there large parts of his country's political history that Mr. Cameron's speech just did not bother with? And if so, can we earn more by looking at the cultural artifacts of that country, such as postcolonial minority filmmaking in Britain?
A couple of years ago, when I defended the proposal for my dissertation on British South Asian cinema, one of the questions that came up was, why British South Asian cinema? In a field where people often assume that your area of academic specialization will relate strongly to your own background in some very personal, but compelling way, those present at this defense understood my academic interests at two levels. They instinctively understood my interest in postcolonial cinema (I am, after all, an English-speaking South Asian), and in diasporic South Asian-American cinema (because here I am, a South Asian studying at an American university, living far, far away from her family and home).
What constitutes postcolonial cinema? To qualify as such, does a film have to explicitly explore themes related directly to colonial and postcolonial relations between two countries and/or cultures? Does it have to be produced in a newly postcolonial society? Or can a film be postcolonial when it addresses certain social issues in a modern country […]
Yasmin (2004) begins with a scene that forces discomfort upon its audience. We hear the azaan, wafting through the windows of a mosque and rolling onto the undulating English countryside, where a young woman, hidden away by the uneven topography, is getting out of her salwaar-kameez, and into a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. […]