HARC Fellowship: Exoticism in Contemporary Cinema and Culture

Project: Research

Project Details


HARC Fellowship (£3,000)

The project is based on the interdisciplinary expertise of Daniela Berghahn, whose extensive research on transnational cinema has been supported by two AHRC grants (Network and Fellowship) and Anna Morcom, whose work on Indian film music and music, and dance in India and Tibet more broadly, has been supported by Leverhulme (Fellowship and Study Abroad Studentship) and the British Academy (Larger Research Grant). It seeks to examine exoticism in contemporary cinema and culture, integrating research from ethnomusicology and film studies.

Exoticism is understood as a contested discourse on radical cultural difference and as a form of cultural translation in contemporary transnational cinemas, attending in particular to the self-representations of those who have traditionally been imagined as the exotic Other. It is based on the premise that the new exotic is no longer solely a projection of Orientalist fantasies of the Other from one centre (the West) but has become decentred through the collapsed distances of globalisation and the transnational production and circulation of films. But what happens if established binarisms such as the West vs. the East or ‘the rest’, the self vs. the Other, on which Orientalism and the old/colonial/imperialist exotic is premised, are replaced by a polycentric logic (Shohat and Stam 1996, Nagib 2011, 2012) and a decentred cosmopolitanism? Does this mark the disappearance of exoticism or, alternatively, the emergence of a new exoticism that ‘provides a much more versatile means of understanding intercultural contact and the mutual interactions of cultures’? (Forsdick 2003: 52)
Effective start/end date1/09/1631/07/17


  • exoticism
  • transnational cinema
  • world music
  • ethnomusicology