VIRTUAL ENCOUNTERS IN POSTCOLONIAL SPACES Nollywood movies about mobile telephony Chapter uri icon


  • In recent years, African lm critics have begun to consider dramatic changes in African cinematic production and distribution across various boundaries, as well as the aesthetic and narrative innovations these transformations have made possible. Critics such as Manthia Diawara, Lindiwe Dovey, Kenneth W. Harrow, Jon Haynes, and Alexie Tcheuyap have called for updated approaches attuned to reading these new forms of African cinematic and media production and, in the cases of Harrow and Tcheuyap, the dismantling of an outdated dominant critical paradigm.1 Nollywood, the name used widely to refer to English-language commercial movie production in Ghana and Nigeria, is among the most vital developments in the eld, and although for many years, with a few important exceptions, the study of Nollywood was taken up primarily by cultural and media anthropologists, the industrys everexpanding transnational reach and extraordinary powers of reinvention have made it impossible for African lm critics to ignore. Understanding Nollywood an unabashedly commercial and apolitical, informal, low-budget, and wildly heterogeneous and syncretic cultural formation that aspires to be as big and bold as Hollywood and Bollywood has entailed questioning some of the most deeply entrenched ideologies of the eld. Governed by what Sarah Nuttall and Cheryl-Ann Michael describe, in a slightly different context, as the overdetermination of the political,2 African lm studies has set out to articulate a uniquely and authentically African lm language and aesthetic, recover the buried histories of African resistance, educate and politicize audiences, and give voice to Africans marginalized by dominant narratives, including Hollywood cinema. Its methods have been rooted in the hermeneutics of what Alberto Moreiras calls locational thinking3 and Achille Mbembe has described as an intellectual genealogy based on a territorialized identity and a racialized geography, which privileges Africa as a site of identity and alterity.4 These approaches to African lm are ill-suited to Nollywood, a product of the structural and technological transformations of neoliberal capitalism that articulates with the entangled temporalities and geographies of our current historical moment. This is a period, Mbembe notes, in which the sites of politics have been displaced and the social has assumed the shape of an assemblage of events and accidents, desires and uncertainties. It also is a time in which the logic of margin and center, which has been reiterated by African lm studies, has proved inadequate to mapping the deterritorialized and uid spatial relations put in motion by globalization and articulated in contemporary cultural forms like Nollywood. As I discuss here, recent Nigerian movies destabilize the elds racialized maps even further, remarking on developments in digital technologies and the spatializing processes they enable.

author list (cited authors)

  • Garritano, C.

complete list of authors

  • Garritano, Carmela

editor list (cited editors)

  • Singh, J. G., & Kim, D. D.

Book Title


publication date

  • October 2016