Irish and African American Cinema

Identifying Others and Performing Identities, 1980-2000

By Maria Pramaggiore

Subjects: African American Studies
Series: SUNY series, Cultural Studies in Cinema/Video
Paperback : 9780791470961, 255 pages, January 2008
Hardcover : 9780791470954, 255 pages, April 2007

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Table of contents

1. Identifying Others
2. Sampling Blackness: Music and Identification in the Films of Neil Jordan and Spike Lee
3. “It’s a Wise Child that Knows His Own Father”: Pregnant Performances and Maternal Mythologies
4. Culturing Violence: Masculine Identification in Irish and African American Gangster Films
5. “Both Sides of the Epic”: Identification in the Nonessentialist Western
Conclusion: Film Identification and Postmodern Identity Politic
Works Consulted 

How these two cinemas portray complex and changing notions of national and racial identity.


Focusing on two film traditions not normally studied together, Maria Pramaggiore examines more than two dozen Irish and African American films, including Do the Right Thing, In the Name of the Father, The Crying Game, Boyz N the Hood, The Snapper, and He Got Game, arguing that these films foreground practices of character identification that complicate essentialist notions of national and racial identity. The porous sense of self associated with moments of identification in these films offers a cinematic counterpart to W. E. B. Du Bois's potent concept of double consciousness, an epistemological standpoint derived from experiences of colonization, racialization, and cultural disruption. Characters in these films, Pramaggiore suggests, reject the national paradigm of insider and outsider in favor of diasporic both/and notions of self, thereby endorsing the postmodern concept of identity as performance.

Maria Pramaggiore is Associate Professor and Director of Film Studies at North Carolina State University. She is the coauthor (with Tom Wallis) of Film: A Critical Introduction and the coeditor (with Donald E. Hall) of RePresenting Bisexualities: Subjects and Cultures of Fluid Desire.


"The revelation of this volume is the author's ability to perform top-notch critical analysis of both Irish and African American films, two seemingly disparate concentrations in cinema studies … specialists in African American or Irish film will be well served by this volume, not only by the analysis but also by Pramaggiore's theorization of cinematic identity formation and appropriation … By demonstrating how cinematic characters 'perform' gender, race, and ethnicity, Pramaggiore furthers the work of Judith Butler and others." — CHOICE

"An extremely original, engaging, and provocative reading of a range of important films. This book will have an impact on a number of broad cultural concerns: Black histories and culture, race and ethnic studies in general, Irish studies, and Irish and American film studies in particular." — Martin McLoone, author of Irish Film: The Emergence of a Contemporary Cinema

"A thoughtful and compelling interrogation of the essentialist discourses of national and ethnic cinema. The book is an important addition to the literature of world cinema." — Krin Gabbard, author of Black Magic: White Hollywood and African American Culture