Transnational and Diasporic Cinema

Ramona Curry

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary


Although from the earliest years film production, marketing, and reception involved extensive national border crossing, the rubric “transnational cinema” has emerged only comparatively recently. Taken up from other disciplines such as anthropology and migration and postcolonial studies, the concept of “transnational” in this still-emerging area of cinema studies remains highly varied, pointing to sometimes contested working definitions and analytic approaches. Rather than attempting to delimit an evolving concept narrowly, this bibliography seeks to elucidate the present understandings and significance of transnational cinema through the selection and annotation of a wide range of compelling scholarship that together constitutes an exciting contemporary discourse. That discourse generally includes “diasporic cinema” as a subcategory distinguished from transnational cinema primarily through the specific historical circumstances of the film- and video-makers studied and their target audiences. Diasporic cinema usually refers to a set of films or other media works produced by (and often in the first instance for) members of demographic groups and often their descendants who have experienced collective, sometimes forced, migration from their lands of origin to survive in face of ethno-racial, political, or religious discrimination or displacement due to war or other economic necessity. Although diasporic film-making thus defined is neither as commonplace nor as long-standing a practice as transnational cinema more broadly, such incidents of cinema production and consumption also emerged early in cinema history, dating to the late 1910s. Wide-ranging research conducted particularly since the 1980s has yielded the fresh and field-shaping awareness of transnational and diasporic cinema’s deep roots, with many books and essays demonstrating nuanced connections between the practices. That circumstance warrants an integrated overview of transnational and diasporic cinema studies as a conjoined research field that has emerged in conjunction with broader intellectual shifts from unitary to more multivocal, de-centered perspectives as realized in, for example, cultural and critical race studies. Such trends underpin the current reframing of film historical and many contemporary studies away from the “national” to an at once localized and more globally based, boundary-crossing scale, with many scholars bringing interdisciplinary case study approaches to document and interpret understudied occurrences of transnational or diasporic cinema. A factor driving the growth of transnational and diasporic cinema studies is the visible proliferation of the phenomena. The sheer volume of media derived from “elsewhere” now accessible in at least electronic format to an alert observer at any given location (even, with some effort, in the United States) invites queries into the processes of contemporary media flow and exchange. To focus its very considerable scope, this article addresses primarily scholarship on narrative transnational and diasporic cinema, making quite limited reference to research on documentary or experimental work or digital media.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationOxford Bibliographies in Cinema and Media Studies
EditorsKrin Gabbard
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherOxford University Press
StatePublished - Apr 28 2016


Dive into the research topics of 'Transnational and Diasporic Cinema'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this