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iROC: Colonial Cinema in Africa

Sep 08

12:45 PM
Kaplan Family Library

 Glenn Reynolds, Mount Saint Mary College associate history professor, will kick off the college’s Investigating Research on Campus (iROC) series with “Colonial Cinema in Africa: Catholic Missionary Filmmaking” on September 8 at 12:45 p.m.

The talk will take place in the Kaplan Family Library and Learning Center at the Mount, 330 Powell Ave., Newburgh. It is free and open to the public.

This talk explores post-World War II Catholic filmmaking in Africa within the broader context of Colonial Cinema. Before the independence era in Africa – roughly 1957 to 1966 –films made in the continent were almost solely produced by white people. Reynolds will provide a brief typology of filmmaking before independence and will argue that missionaries played a prominent role in bringing the camera into play across the broad expanse of the continent.

“This research began about two years ago with visits to the Maryknoll archives in Ossining, N.Y., and the Smithsonian Human Studies Film Archives in Suitland, Md.,” explained Reynolds. “Using the films as a foundation, I spent my Spring 2016 sabbatical tracking a few of Fr. Gordon Fournier’s film expeditions between 1948 and 1954, and his efforts to create an African Film Foundation.”

Reynolds graduated from the University of California-Berkeley in 1986 with a degree in political science, and then attended SUNY-Stonybrook where he was awarded a PhD in history in 2005. With a focus on colonial films studies, his dissertation was on the origins of mass black film spectatorship in Africa. Reynolds’ research has yielded three books and highlights the pivotal role of missionaries in Africa serving to bring films into Africa, and to produce vocational films for audiences back home.

The goal of the Mount’s iROC seminar series is to “provide a forum for Mount faculty, staff, and students to present research proposals, preliminary data, and completed projects,” explained Douglas A. Robinson, associate professor of biology and coordinator of the program. The iROCs feature various academic fields.

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