The Embodiment of Subjectivity in Contemporary Maghrebi and French Cinemas

  • Kaya Davies Hayon

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis examines a cluster of recent films that feature people of Maghrebi heritage and position corporeality as a site through which subjectivity and self-other relations are constituted and experienced. These films are set in and between the countries of the Maghreb, France and, to a lesser degree, Switzerland, and often adopt a sensual aesthetic that prioritises embodied knowledge, the interrelation of the senses and the material realities of emotional experience. However, despite the importance of the body in these films, no study to date has taken corporeality as its primary point of concern. Existing research in French and Francophone Studies focuses almost exclusively on the socio-political issues raised by the phenomenon of French "beur" cinema (films by and/or about young Maghrebi-French people), meaning that there has been no extended scholarly investigation into the importance of corporeality in recent films featuring people of Maghrebi heritage. Underpinned by an interdisciplinary theoretical framework that interweaves corporeal phenomenology with theological and feminist scholarship on the body from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), this thesis seeks to provide the first longitudinal and comparative account of how Maghrebi people of different genders, ethnicities, sexualities, ages and classes have been represented corporeally in post-millennial Maghrebi and French cinemas. Via its acute focus on images of people of Maghrebi heritage and how their representations show them engaging with their environments through their bodies, this thesis is the first to apply the recent turn to corporeal phenomenology in Film Studies and feminism to critical interrogations of Maghrebi identities in Maghrebi and French films since the new millennium. 
Date of Award31 Dec 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester


  • Cinema
  • Phenomenology
  • Sufism
  • Corporeality
  • Maghreb
  • Body

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