Crossing the European boundary: The conjoined figures of colonizer and migrant in Zama (Martel, 2017) and The Other Side of Hope (Kaurismäki, 2017)

Ali Riza Taskale, Erdoğan H. Sima

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


Caught between the seemingly contradictory imageries of particularity and universality, 'European identity' could in fact be presumed but as a shorthand for ontological anxiety. The ('euro-') centric ontology that it denotes is marked by an ongoing ambivalence that both recoils from and accepts the superfluousness of boundaries. The obverse of this ambivalent concern with boundaries, we suggest, are the narrative efforts to consign it to the singular agency of the 'impossible' boundary crossing. Cinematographically speaking, the otherwise mute ontological anxiety is contained in the precariousness of the figures of colonizer and migrant. The way a 'European' cinema relates to these figures becomes all the more significant where 'Europe' denotes a challenging relationship, and not a 'thing'. It is in view of the ways in which they respond to this challenge that we examine Zama (Martel, 2017) and The Other Side of Hope (Kaurismäki, 2017). The focus, in other words, is on what nevertheless escapes their efforts: while Zama's out-of-place 'colonizer' obscures the inherent placelessness of colonial agency, Hope's symbiotic relationship between the self and the other withholds the reversibility of the 'self/other' dualism. In the instrumental visibility of their singular figures, we hope to show, both films contribute to the incidental visibility of the 'European' claim to transcend its own dualisms. The figures of colonizer and migrant are in fact the relatively visible symptoms of a cinematic labour whose ambivalences remain otherwise invisible.
TidsskriftNorthern Lights: Film & Media Studies Yearbook
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)25-38
Antal sider14
StatusUdgivet - 2020
Udgivet eksterntJa


  • European identity
  • boundary crossing
  • cinema of vectors
  • colonizer
  • migrant
  • ontological anxiety
  • subjectivity

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