Invited lecture at the Janovics Center for Screen and Performing Arts Studies

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


Transnational Encounters with Cultural Difference in Exotic Cinema
This presentation examines why exoticism is central to thinking about the global dynamics of world cinema. It addresses two key questions: First, what role does exoticism play in the transnational reception of world cinema and, second, how does the performance of exoticism in contemporary world cinema challenge and decentre dominant western values and systems of knowledge?
Offering a theoretical discussion of exoticism, I propose that the exotic gaze is a particular mode of aesthetic perception that is simultaneously anchored in the filmic text and elicited in the spectator in the process of transnational reception. Exoticism, like world cinema and its transnational circulation, is premised on mobility. When exotic world cinema crosses cultural boundaries, hermeneutic obstacles arise that make it difficult for cultural outsiders to fully understand ostensibly obscure films rooted in other cultural contexts. By turning cultural difference into spectacle, relying on the visual allure of sumptuous images and an aesthetics of sensuous indulgence, exotic world cinema compensates for the deficit of culturally specific knowledge that occurs when films are watched across borders.
Exoticism’s emphatic visuality and the visual pleasure it affords are regularly censured because it is regarded as something of an opiate that anaesthetises the audiences’ critical faculties, thereby, precluding intellectual interrogation and critical distance. Certainly, old Eurocentric exotic films use spectacle as a mechanism of concealment, beguiling the spectator to ignore the social injustice, domination and exploitation that structure the west’s relationship with its Others. But the new decentred exoticism of world cinema, inverts this strategy by deploying exoticism’s inherent seductiveness to bring social injustices and new socio-political agendas to public attention.

Period22 May 2024
Held atJanovics Center for Screen and Performing Arts Studies at Babes-Bolai University , Romania
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • exotic cinema
  • transnational film
  • exoticism
  • exotic gaze
  • cultural difference
  • Otherness