Daniela Berghahn

Daniela Berghahn, Dr Phil

Professor, Director of Postgraduate Research (autumn 2023)

  • TW20 0EX

Personal profile

Personal profile

Research and Teaching

Daniela Berghahn is Professor of Film Studies in the Department of Media Arts. Her research and teaching focuses on contemporary European and global art cinema. In particular, she is interested in approaches to national and transnational cinemas; migrant and diasporic cinema; German film history and culture; the relationship between film, history and memory; representations of the family in cinema; cultural difference, otherness and the aesthetics of exoticism in global art cinema. She welcomes applications for PhD projects in any of these areas. 

She is currently researching how exoticism, a profoundly Eurocentric concept, is decentred in contemporary world cinema. The research website www.exotic-cinema.org offers some insights into the scope and aims of this project. Her monograph Exotic Cinema: Encounters with Cultural Difference in Contemporary Transnational Film (forthcoming in November 2023 with Edinburgh University Press) is the first systematic analysis of decentred exoticsm in contemporary transnational and world cinema. By critically examining regimes of visuality such as the imperial, the ethnographic and the exotic gaze, which have colonised our minds and ways of looking, the monograph makes an important contribution to the urgent agenda of decolonising film studies. 

Berghahn’s extensive work on migrant and diasporic cinema has been supported by a Research Network Grant and a Research Fellowship by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The international research network on Migrant and Diasporic Cinema in Contemporary Europe (www.migrantcinema.net) brought together researchers, filmmakers, policy makers and representatives from the cultural sector. It explored how the films of migrant and diasporic filmmakers have redefined our understanding of European identity as constructed and narrated in European cinema. The project culminated in the anthology European Cinema in Motion: Migrant and Diasporic Film in Contemporary Europe (2010). Her next research project explored the cinematic representation of diasporic families in contemporary European cinema (www.farflungfamilies.net). Key outcomes of this project were the monograph Far-flung Families in Film: The Diasporic Family in Contemporary European Cinema (Edinburgh UP, 2013) and a book, published in the BFI Film Classics series, on the transnational melodrama Head-On (2015) by the Turkish German director Fatih Akin. 

Berghahn has been amongst the first scholars in the Anglophone world to research DEFA (Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft), the state-owned and controlled film production and distribution company of the former German Democratic Republic. Her book Hollywood behind the Wall: The Cinema of East Germany (Manchester UP 2005) examines the history of East German film culture from 1946 to the beginning of the new millennium.

Her articles have appeared in Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Transnational Screens, Alphaville, New Cinemas, Studies in European Cinema, Montage AV, German Life and Letters, Monatshefte and Oxford German Studies

Other activities

At Royal Holloway, Daniela Berghahn has held various research management positions, including Associate Dean for Research of the Arts and Social Sciences Faculty (2017–2020),  Director of the Humanities and Arts Research Institute (HARI, 2016-2018) and Director of Research in the Media Arts Department (2014-2018, 2021 - ).  

Between 2012 and 2019, Berghahn was a member of the AHRC Peer Review College. She currently serves on the Editorial Board of Studies in World Cinema, on the Editorial Advisory Board of Transnational Screens. She is a member of the international advisory board of the Taiwan-based research project Geocinema.TW: Geopolitics and Transantional Cinemas 

Personal background

Berghahn studied at the University of Cologne in Germany and at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Before joining the Media Arts Department at Royal Holloway in 2006, she worked as a Strategic Planner at AMVBBDO, one of London’s top ten advertising agencies, and taught at the University of Cambridge and Oxford Brookes University, where she founded the B.A. in Film Studies programme in 2004. 


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities