African cinema and Bamako (2006): notes on epistemology and film theory

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This article analyses Abderrahmane Sissako's feature film Bamako (2006), set in the courtyard of the director's childhood in the city of Bamako itself, in which a trial against global financial institutions, specifically the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, is enacted from the subjective viewpoints of Malians. In its provocation from the position of the ‘global south’, the film shifts epistemological perspectives towards an alignment with emergent African sensibilities; it questions the nature of humanity and existence from African points of view, literally and iconographically, specifically in relation to imposed economic policies. The article argues that Bamako is exceptionally significant for film theory and that the film's poetic and ferocious critique of the global economic order in the first decade of the 21st century requires new formulations of film theory that can respond to the contemporary order. It proposes that Bamako defines a critical African cinema that evokes new theoretical dynamics, including social theory, spatial anthropologies and cultural geographies as well as a focus on global collective responsibility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-113
Number of pages11
JournalCritical African Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013

Bibliographical note

In Special Issue: African History through the Arts

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