Call for papers “African Revolutionary Film”

A Glossary of Words My Mother Never Taught Me (Renée Akiteleek Mboya, 2021)

We are delighted to announce this call for papers in collaboration with Sources for a special issue on revolutionary African films made during decolonization, their role in shaping the social lives of African viewers both then and now, and their perilous and complex position as archival sources.

Over the last century, politics across the world have been remade through the visual technology of screens. From early Soviet cinema trains and ‘agit steamers’ to YouTube and other ‘streamers’ today, revolutionaries have believed that the moving image, as an easily reproducible and mobile medium of dramatic narratives, offers a powerful way of uniting diverse groups of people under new political visions. The emancipatory projects of decolonization in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, though typically eclipsed in cinema studies and film history scholarship, were a key site in the development of revolutionary screen cultures. The complex, contested legacies of this era of filmmaking often disappeared from public view following the demise of these political projects, the rise of neocolonialism, and the institutional neglect of Africa’s celluloid film industries and their archives during structural adjustment. The specters and memories of this past are becoming increasingly important today, particularly to a new generation of African artists, filmmakers and archivists who are reckoning with history in their own emancipatory projects and in doing so creatively re-imagining what the film archive is and what it can be.

This special issue seeks to gather scholarship on African revolutionary filmmaking and African film and media archives from across academic disciplines and intellectual contexts. We use the term ‘revolutionary’ broadly here to denote the radical, multifaceted projects of transforming society, culture and discourses from colonial rule in ways that both genuinely sought emancipation through the ‘disruption of existing categories’ as well as those projects that embedded authoritarian politics under the sign of revolution (Zeleke & Davari 2022). We welcome contributions from anthropologists, archivists, cinema scholars, filmmakers, and historians (to name a few) to explore the intellectual, political and methodological issues in African revolutionary film histories past and present. This interdisciplinary exchange is, as Roland Barthes argued in 1968, ‘not a question of making disciplines communicate, it is a question of changing them’ (2002 [1968], 58). As such, contributors are strongly encouraged to step back and take an innovative, self-critical, and perhaps experimental approach to academic publication, which involves addressing the politics surrounding the archival sources that they use and, where appropriate, to make available those sources alongside their articles. Where there are no rights issues, embedding film or screen shots within text is not only possible, but encouraged. Other sources that may be included for publication and analysis for example may be particular scratches on a film’s surface, or an interview from outtakes, to a copy of a state censorship report. At the center of this call for papers is an interrogation of where and how knowledge is produced. What materials count as sources for understanding African histories? And how does the preservation (or neglect) of African film archives shape political histories today? In line with Sources mission to provide a platform to share sources and research materials, we also see this special issue as a tentative exercise of archive-making.

Deadline for Submission of the abstracts: 15 February 2023

French version :

Citer ce billet
cedejsudan (2023, 12 février). Call for papers “African Revolutionary Film” Researching Sudan - A perspective on contemporary Sudans. Consulté le 22 février 2024, à l’adresse

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