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Mixed Race Cinemas

Mixed Race Cinemas: Multiracial Dynamics in America and France

by Zélie Asava

Zélie Asava is an Assistant Film Classifier at the Irish Film Classification Office and lectures on Film Studies at University College Dublin. Her monograph The Black Irish Onscreen: Representing Black and Mixed-Race Identities on Irish Film and Television (2013) examines racial representations in Irish screen culture from the 1990s to the present day. She is the co-author of ‘Race and Cinema’ in Oxford Bibliographies Online: Cinema and Media Studies (2013), and has published many essays on race, gender and sexuality in American, Irish, French and Francophone African cinemas in a wide range of journals and edited collections, including: Masculinity and Irish Popular Culture: Tiger’s Tales (2014); World Cinema Directory: Africa (2014); Viewpoints: Theoretical Perspectives on Irish Visual Texts (2013); Images of the Modern Vampire: The Hip and the Atavistic (2013); France’s Colonial Legacies: Memory, Identity and Narrative (2013); World Cinema Directory: France (2013); Contemporary Irish Film: New Perspectives on a National Cinema (2011). Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Bloomsbury Academic, 2017
  • DOI:
    10.5040/9781501312472
  • ISBN:
    9781501312458 (hardback)

    9781501312465 (epdf)

    9781501312489 (epub)

    9781501312472 (online)
  • Edition:
    First edition
  • Place of Publication:
    New York
Mixed Race Cinemas
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Using critical race theory and film studies to explore the interconnectedness between cinema and society, Zélie Asava traces the history of mixed-race representations in American and French filmmaking from early and silent cinema to the present day. Mixed Race Cinemas covers over a hundred years of filmmaking to chart the development of (black/white) mixed representations onscreen. With the 21st century being labelled the Mulatto Millennium, mixed bodies are more prevalent than ever in the public sphere, yet all too often they continue to be positioned as exotic, strange and otherworldly, according to ‘tragic mulatto’ tropes. This book evaluates the potential for moving beyond fixed racial binaries both onscreen and off by exploring actors and characters who embody the in-between. Through analyses of over 40 movies, and case studies of key films from the 1910s on, Mixed Race Cinemas illuminates landmark shifts in local and global cinema, exploring discourses of subjectivity, race, gender, sexuality and class. In doing so, it reveals the similarities and contrasts between American and French cinema in relation to recognising, visualising and constructing mixedness. Mixed Race Cinemas contextualizes and critiques raced and ‘post-race’ visual culture, using cinematic representations to illustrate changing definitions of mixed identity across different historical and geographical contexts.