Rethinking Representations of Identity in Contemporary Francophone West African Cinemas

  • Monika Kukolova

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis examines representations of identities that are specific to Francophone West Africa, as depicted in the films produced in the region since the 1990s. The films are set in the countries of Senegal, Mali and Burkina Faso, among the ethnic groups that form the diverse demographic landscape of the region, and they portray stories and characters that strongly relate these films to the local ways of belonging. While existing research in the field of African film studies focuses on how films from Francophone West Africa portray postcolonial or national identities, very little scholarly attention has been paid to the depiction of identities that are linked to the region’s ethnic cultures. This thesis demonstrates that the local ways of belonging and the practices, rituals and beliefs which these identities rely on continue to have vital significance for representation in Francophone West African cinemas. Using textual analysis as a base for its arguments, this thesis is underpinned by an interdisciplinary theoretical framework that combines extensive contextual research into various West African practices, rituals and beliefs with the philosophical works on cinema by Gilles Deleuze. A number of the concepts Deleuze defines help significantly in the understanding of time and identity in the films, and the interpretative nature of Deleuze’s work offers the opportunity to bridge the gap in film theory application in studies of Francophone African cinema. By applying this diverse theoretical approach to its investigation of the intertwining local identities, the thesis highlights the necessity of an intersectional approach to analysing identity representation in Francophone African cinemas. It is the first study of representations of ethnically-linked identities in the field of African film studies.
Date of Award1 Aug 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorJoseph McGonagle (Supervisor) & Darren Waldron (Supervisor)


  • representation
  • identity
  • African cinema
  • ethnicity
  • francophone

Cite this