Historical Research in Ibero-American Cinema: Perspectives and Challenges in the Digital Age
Deadline: 15 July 2021
The main purpose of this special issue is to reflect on the current state of cinema historical research in the Iberian and Latin American world, considering the challenges it poses to contemporaneity and existing perspectives. One of the main tasks of film historians is to develop a system for understanding past experiences that link film analysis and production data – in their different manifestations – with contextual issues (Oliveira Mazzini and Torello 2016). Over the decades, accumulated knowledge has contributed to the formation of a historiography that, depending on the context, can be defined as classic or new, terms frequently found in articles and books on the subject (Bernardet 1995; Elsaesser 2004; López 2006; López and Tierney 2014; Paranaguá 2015; Ramos and Schvarzman 2018). Paraphrasing the titles of three paradigmatic works by Pierre Nora and Jacques Le Goff (1976a, 1976b, 1976c), we aim to assess the state of new approaches, new objects and new problems in recent historical research and explore the possibilities in articulating theory and practice..
When we look at the manner in which thinking about cinema developed in countries where cinematography flourished at an industrial level – as in the United States and France since the 1910s – we note that the impact of the new medium was accompanied by intense reflection on its status as a document. The importance of cinema as a historical source was highlighted as early as 1898 by photographer and cameraman Boleslas Matuszewski, who published the booklet entitled A New Source for History (Matuszewski 2006). Nevertheless, the articulation of events within a broader narrative line had to wait for the 1920s, in the figure of Georges-Michel Coissac. At one of the scientific congresses of the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, held in Paris in 1925, Coissac gave a lecture in which he presented a historical account of French cinema from 1895 to 1924, probably a synthesis of his book Histoire du Cinéma: des ses origines jusqu’à nos jours, published that same year (Morettin 2016, 123). His concern was mostly encyclopedic and “focused on narrating the processes of evolution of the technique” (Zanatto 2019), but it was certainly a starting point with which later historians could align (or oppose to), in a trajectory that has, among other highlights, the Congress of the International Federation of Cinematographic Archives (FIAF), held in Brighton in 1978. Focusing on the historical period known as ‘first cinema’, this famous congress brought about a new and more comprehensive methodological perspective that articulated film analysis with cultural context.
In places where cinema had little industrial development, as is generally the case with Iberian and Latin American countries, historiographic production faced numerous challenges. This hasn’t, of course, prevented a continued reflection on the past, as evidenced by the creation of journals specially focused on this subject, such as Studies in Spanish & Latin American Cinemas, in 2004, and Vivomatografías. Revista de estudios sobre precine y cine en América Latina, in 2015, among others. The first consequence of this disarticulation has been the lack of film and documentary collections and archives, which would allow for the constitution of a wide and diversified field of historical contemplation of the cultural processes involved in film production..
As widely known, Latin American audiovisual archives and cinémathèques have been at great risk, most recently, the Cinemateca Brasileira. It is never enough to emphasize the strategic importance of these collections, since they store films, posters, scripts and reports. Articulated by the researcher’s chosen methods, the formation of thematic and conceptual axes or the constitution of a periodization, these documents enable us to build the history of a certain cinematography. In 2020, digital technologies were the privileged form of access to film and documentary sources, which has undoubtedly accentuated the challenges posed since the early 21st century (Cuarterolo 2017). If our visual understanding of film is changing with its display on cell phones and computers, there is also a growing loss of contact with the materiality of the sources due to the continuous use of digital databases and repositories of documentary sources. Thinking about the implications of this situation in cinema history is one of the objectives of this special issue..
The themes here proposed indicate possible areas of research, but we will consider with special interest original and complete works that deal with subjects, objects and sources little explored in cinema historical studies.
Essays may include, but are not limited to, the following topics:
- Studies on cinema historiography, with reflections on its categories of analysis;
- Different perspectives on and approaches to cinema history;
- The connections between documentary research, film analysis and history, indicating possible ways of expanding the field;
- The challenges of the digital turn and the growing loss of contact with the materiality of original sources;• The present role of film archives, museums and cinémathèques in historical research;
- The history of film studies, the constitution of the field and its reconfiguration;
- The emergence of new topics and objects of study;• The denationalization of film studies: comparative and transnational approaches;
- The decentralization of film studies: the history of cinema outside the main cities;• The increasing interest in the research of non-commercial films (newsreels, amateur and family films, educational and scientific films, etc.);
- Studies on intermediality.
This special issue is guest-edited by Andrea Cuarterolo (University of Buenos Aires, Argentina), Eduardo Morettin (University of São Paulo, Brazil), and Georgina Torello (University de la República, Uruguay).
Andrea Cuarterolo (PhD in History and Theory of Arts from the University of Buenos Aires). She is a full time researcher at the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET) and she teaches at the University of Buenos Aires. She is the author of De la foto al fotograma: Relaciones entre cine y fotografía en la Argentina 1840–1933 (CdF Ediciones, 2013) and the co-editor of Pantallas transnacionales. El cine argentino y mexicano del período clásico (Imago Mundi/Cineteca Nacional de México, 2017) and Diez miradas sobre el cine y audiovisual (Editorial de la Facultad de Filosofía y Letras de la UBA, 2018). Since 2016, she co-directs the Centro de Investigación y Nuevos Estudios sobre cine (Facultad de Filosofía y Letras de la Universidad de Buenos Aires) and she co-directs, with Georgina Torello, the journal Vivomatografías. Revista de estudios sobre precine y cine silente en Latinomérica.
Eduardo Morettin is a professor at the University of São Paulo. He is the author of Humberto Mauro, Cinema, Historia (SP, Editorial Alameda, 2013) and one of the organizers of O Cinema e as Ditaduras Militares: Contextos, memórias e representações audiovisuais (SP, Intermeios, 2018), among other works. He is one of the directors of the CNPq History and Audiovisual Research Group: Circularities and Forms of Communication. He was visiting professor at the Institut des Hautes Études de l’Amérique Latine at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3 (2019).
Georgina Torello (Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania) is a professor in the Department of Modern Letters at the Faculty of Humanities and Educational Sciences (UdelaR, Uruguay). She is the author of La conquista del espacio. Cine silente uruguayo (1915-1932) (Montevideo: Yaugurú, 2018); and the editor of Uruguay se filma. Prácticas documentales (1920-1990) (Montevideo: Irrupciones Grupo Editor, 2018), among other works. She currently co-coordinates the Grupo de Estudios Audiovisuales (GEstA, Uruguay) and, within this space, is co-responsible for two projects on cinema at UdelaR (CSIC and EI). She co-directs, together with Andrea Cuarterolo, the refereed journal Vivomatografías. Revista de estudios sobre precine y cine silente en Latinomérica.
The deadline for submitting articles is 15 July 2021.
All submissions received before the deadline will undergo a selection process (by the editors), followed by blind peer review (by external reviewers). The texts must have between 6000 and 8000 words and include a title, an abstract of up to 300 words and a maximum of 6 keywords in Portuguese and English (and Spanish, if that is the language of the text).
Before submitting your full article, please check the Section Policies, the Instructions for Authors, and the Peer Review Policy HERE.
To submit a proposal, click HERE.
For inquiries, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Bernardet, Jean-Claude. 1995. Historiografia Clássica do Cinema Brasileiro. Metodologia e Pedagogia. São Paulo: Annablume.
- Cuarterolo, Andrea. 2017. “El archivo en la época de su reproductibilidad técnica. Recursos digitales para el estudio del cine silente latinoamericano”. Vivomatografías. Revista de estudios sobre precine y cine silente en Latinoamérica, 3: 416-447. Available at: http://www.vivomatografias.com/index.php/vmfs/article/view/143.
- Elsaesser, Thomas. 2004. “The New Film History as Media Archaeology”. Histoires croisées des images. Objets et méthodes, 14 (2-3) : 75-117.
- Le Goff, Jacques e Nora, Pierre. 1976a. História: Novas Abordagens. Rio de Janeiro: Francisco Alves Ed.
- Le Goff, Jacques e Nora, Pierre. 1976b. História: Novos Objetos. Rio de Janeiro: Francisco Alves Ed.
- Le Goff, Jacques e Nora, Pierre 1976c. História: Novos Problemas. Rio de Janeiro: Francisco Alves Ed.
- López, Ana M. 2006. “The State of Things: New Directions in Latin American Film History”. The Americas 63 (2): 197-203.
- López, Ana M. y Tierney, Dolores. 2014. “In Focus: Latin American Film Research in the Twenty-First Century”. Cinema Journal 54 (1): 112-142.
- Matuszewski, Boleslas. 2006. Écrits cinématographiques. Paris : Association Française de Recherche sur l’Histoire du Cinéma/Cinémathèque Française. Édition établie par Magdalena Mazaraki.
- Morettin, Eduardo. 2016. “O lugar do cinema na Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes(Paris, 1925): Entre a modernidade e a tradição”. In: Ana Paula Spini, Luciene Lehmkuhl, e Valéria Mara da Silva (orgs.), 115-133. Imagens na Escrita da História. São Paulo: Rafael Copetti Editor.
- Olivera Mazzini, María José, e Torello, Georgina. 2016. “¿Doble Redota? Representación del héroe patrio José Gervasio Artigas.” Cinémas d’Amérique Latine, 24 : 76-91.
- Paranaguá, Paulo. 2015. “Memoria e historia del cine en América Latina”. In: Aurelio De Los Reyes, e David Wood (coords.), 21-32. Cine mudo latinoamericano. Inicios, nación, vanguardias y transición. Mexico: UNAM.
- Ramos, Fernão e Schvarzman, Sheila. 2018. Nova História do Cinema Brasileiro, vols. 1 e 2. São Paulo: Edições Sesc São Paulo.
- Zanatto, Rafael. 2019. “Paulo Emílio e a formação dos estudos históricos de cinema na Europa”. Significação: Revista de cultura audiovisual, 46 (52): 39-59.
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