Rewriting History from the Margins: Diasporic Memory, Shabby Chic and Archival Footage

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This essay seeks to probe the limits of heritage cinema in relation to films that engage with disaporic memory, a particular type of transnational memory that is inherently at odds with the overtly national project pursued by heritage cinema. Thus, one of my objectives is to examine how diasporic filmmakers pluralise national heritage by articulating counter memories that bring the lacunae of hegemonic history into focus. What strategies do they use to insert alternative accounts of the past that have hitherto been elided because, in the words of Pierre Nora, diasporic communities have no ‘historical capital’ (1989: 7). I shall consider three case studies which reflect the recent historical turn of diasporic European cinema. Whereas earlier phases of diasporic filmmaking have been firmly anchored in the socio-political realities of the present, since the early 2000s a growing number of films have engaged with historical subject matters. This shift in focus from the present to the past went hand in hand with a shift from social realist dramas to popular genres, reflecting diasporic filmmakers’ attempt to move their films out of an ethnic niche into the mainstream.

Case studies: Hors-la-Loi / Outside the Law (Rachid Bouchareb (2010); Almanya - Willkommen in Deutschland / Almanya: Welcome to Germany (Yasemin Samdereli, 2011); Belle (Amma Asante, 2014).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationScreening European Heritage
Subtitle of host publicationCreating and Consuming History on Film
EditorsPaul Cooke, Rob Stone
Place of PublicationBasingstoke
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781137522801
ISBN (Print)9781137522795
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2016

Publication series

NameEuropean Film and Media Studies


  • Heritage cinema
  • European cinema
  • Memory discourse
  • diasporic memory
  • archive
  • Algerian War of Independence in cinema

Cite this