Cinematic Settlers: The Settler Colonial World in Film, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Cinematic Settlers

The Settler Colonial World in Film, 1st Edition

By Janne Lahti, Rebecca Weaver-Hightower


248 pages

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This anthology adds to the burgeoning field of settler colonial studies by examining settler colonial narratives in the underanalyzed medium of film.

Cinematic Settlers discusses different cinematic genres, national traditions, and specific movies in order to expose related threads, shared circulations of knowledge, and paralleled representations. Organized into thematic groupings—conquest, settlement, natives, and space—the contributors explore the question of how film compares to written genres and other visual media in representing and effecting settler colonialism on a global scale. Striving for inclusiveness, the volume covers different eras and settler colonial situations in Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Hawaii, the American West, Canada, Latin America, Russia, France, Algeria, German Africa, South Africa, and even the next frontier: outer space. By showing how films offer layered, contested, and dynamic settler colonial narratives that advance settler hegemonic readings, the essays enable students to better analyze and understand the complex history of diversity and colonialism in film.

This book is important reading for undergraduate classes on the history of empire, colonialism, and film.


"Situated at the intersection of film studies and settler colonial studies, Cinematic Settlers is an extremely valuable volume that reflects on settler colonialism as a multifaceted process that is, in fundamental ways, still ongoing and in which cinema has been, since its invention, centrally involved. With sixteen carefully considered and clearly written essays, the collection produces an understanding of settler colonialism, and the film cultures it has produced, that is grounded in historical and textual specificity on the one hand and expansive, indeed global, on the other. The result is a volume of remarkable depth and breadth that throws into fresh relief the politics – of place, of representation, of identity – that structure settler societies." - Corinn Columpar, University of Toronto, Canada

"Cinematic Settlers challenges the field of settler-colonial studies with its ambitious geographical breadth and redefines conceptions of world cinema by interrogating the settler structures that underpin the medium. It is an essential text that spans multiple genres and historical periods to address urgent questions about the state of cinema and its role in cultivating a path beyond settlement." - Jerod Ra'Del Hollyfield, Carson-Newman University, USA

"Settler colonialism is at the very core of modern global history. This wide-ranging collection reveals its huge impact on transnational film and popular culture."- Angela Woollacott, The Australian National University, Australia

"This collection of essays on cinema from across the globe offers rich new insights on the distinct cultures settler colonialism produced by mirroring and affirming settler interests, perspectives and fantasies. The collection also tackles difficult questions of how contemporary filmmakers grapple with Indigenous critiques and post-settlement politics in diverse ways; from adopting multivocal perspectives to re-staging settler narratives in new imaginary frontiers. When representing diversity in film is such a pressing issue, this timely collection explores the deep histories and ambivalences of settler cinema." - Dr. Shino Konishi, University of Western Australia, Australia

Table of Contents

Part I: Conquest 1. The South Pacific as the Final Frontier: Hollywood’s South Seas Fantasies, the Beachcomber, and Militarization 2. Environments of Settler Colonialism in Statehood-Era U.S. Cinematic Depictions of the Hawaiian Islands 3. Settler-Aboriginal Alliance and the Threat of Foreign Invasion in Baz Luhrmann’s Australia 4. Settler Bolsheviks in the Soviet ‘Eastern’ Part II: Settlers 5. Gunless as Settler Colonial Borderlands Fantasy 6. The Unbearable Settler West in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs 7. Unser Haus in Kamerun: The Restauration of Settler Colonial Memory in German Post-World War II Cinema 8. Negotiating Between Homelands: Settler Colonial Situation and Settler Ambivalence in Taiwan Cinema Part III: Natives 9. Hero or Dupe: Jay Swan and the Ambivalences of Aboriginal Masculinity in the Films of Ivan Sen 10. In the Land of the Head Hunters: Kwakwaka’wakw Archives and the Settler Colonial Lens 11. Disrupting Settler Innocence in Latin American Films 12. The "Knack": Post-settlement Cinema in Aotearoa New Zealand Part IV: Space 13. Landscapes, Wildlife, and Grey Owl: Settler Colonial Imaginaries and Tourist Spaces in William J. Oliver’s Parks Branch Films, 1920s-1930s 14. From Colonial Casbah to Casbah-banlieue: Settlement and Space in Pépé le Moko (1937) and La Haine (1996) 15. Between Sherwood Forest and the Red Sea: Settler Colonial South Africa in early Hollywood 16. Settler Evasions in Interstellar and Cowboys and Aliens: Thinking the End of the World is Still Easier than Thinking the End of Settler Colonialism

About the Authors

Dr. Janne Lahti is an Academy of Finland Research Fellow in history at the University of Helsinki, Finland. He specializes in global and transnational histories of settler colonialism, borderlands, American West, and Nordic colonialism. His books include The American West and the World: Transnational and Comparative Perspectives (Routledge, 2018) and Wars for Empire: Apaches, the United States, and the Southwest Borderlands (University of Oklahoma Press, 2017).

Professor Rebecca Weaver-Hightower is Chair of English at North Dakota State University. Her publications include Frontier Fictions: Settler Sagas and Postcolonial Guilt (Palgrave 2018), Empire Islands: Castaways, Cannibals and Fantasies of Conquest, (Minnesota 2007), Postcolonial Film: History, Empire, Resistance (Routledge 2014, co-edited with Peter Hulme), and another collection on settler literatures Archiving Settler Colonialism: Culture, Space and Race, (Routledge 2018, co-edited with Yuting Huang).

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General