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India-Africa. A New Soft Power ?

Seminar organized by the research program CRAA-ETRE (Comprendre les relations Afrique-Asie : espace transversal de recherches et d’enseignement)

Date :
March 22, 2017
15:00 -17:00

Venue :
Seminar room 638, 6th floor
190 Avenue de France
75013 Paris


 Alessandro Jedlowski, University of Liege
Post-imperial affinities in film production : Discourses and practices of collaboration between the Nigerian and the Indian film industries

Abstract :
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the readjustment of the global political landscape which followed it, South-South economic interactions have multiplied. While these networks have existed for centuries, the scale of the exchanges taking place along them has reached unprecedented levels over the past two decades. Within this landscape, media industries have come to occupy a relevant position, at the crossroad between soft power and hard economic interests. If, over the past two decades, numerous studies analyzedthe South-South circulation of media products, numerous aspects of the ongoing interactions remain under-researched. In what concerns Africa in particular, several scholars have investigated the reception of non-Western media products by local audiences (Fair 2010 ; Krings 2015 ; Larkin 1997 ; Shain 2002 ; White 2002), but scant is the number of those who analyzed South-South interactions from the point of view of media practitioners, and particularly in relation to production and training (but see Pfaff 2004).
In this paper I intend to contribute to this emerging field of scholarship by analyzing the discourses and practices of collaborations that have emerged between the Indian and the Nigerian film industries over the past few years.India and Nigeria have a centuries-long history of reciprocal relations, accentuated by their common experience under the British Empire. This experience produced a number of affinities which have been seen as one of the possible causes of Bollywood films’ success in Nigeria (see Larkin 2002 : 750 ; Adamu 2007), as well as the ground for many other cultural, political, and economic interactions which took place after the independence of the two countries (Kura 2009 ; Subrahmanyam 2006). These “post-imperial affinities” have imposed themselves to the scholars working on the film industries in the two countries, who have implicitly or explicitly acknowledged them in their analysis. Behind the numerous similarities and convergences, however, there are important differences between these two industries which, until today, have conditioned the outcome of most attempts to make Nollywood and Bollywood effectively collaborate. By analyzing specific examples and the experiences of a few southern Nigerian and Indian film professionals who attempted to develop transnational collaborations, this paper investigates the ambiguities of the affinities existing between Nollywood and Bollywood and interrogates the prospects for the creation of effective interactions between them.
Bio:Alessandro Jedlowski is a Belgian Research Fund (F.R.S-FNRS) post-doctoral fellow in anthropology at the Laboratoired’AnthropologieSociale et Culturelle of the University of Liège (Belgium). His main research interests include African cinema, media and migration, urban culture, and South-South cultural and economic interactions. His current research analyses the political and economic dimensions of film production in the Nigerian video film industry (Nollywood) and compares them with those of other video-film industries emerging around the African continent, and particularly in Ethiopia and Côte d’Ivoire. He published several essays on this topic in international journals and edited collections, and he is the co-editor (together with Ute Röschenthaler) of a recent special issue of the Journal of African Cultural Studies on China-Africa media interactions.

 Pooja Jain, FFJ-EHESS, Science Po
The appropriation and commodification of cultural affinities in boosting contemporary economic relations between India and Senegal