La mère de... gendered migration and displaced mothering in Ousmane Sembène's La Noire de

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This article addresses issues of gender, migration and race in Sembène’s La Noire de… (1966) through an examination of the film’s representation of transnational motherhood and maternal-domestic labour. While commentators tend to read the film’s female characters in terms of an allegory of imperial violence between France and Senegal, this article argues that La Noire de… should be simultaneously considered as an intimate portrayal of the effects of colonialism and gendered experiences of migration, particularly in relation to mothers and familial relations. It begins by situating the film within the political and cultural climate of 1960s France, focusing on attitudes towards migration and population that inform Sembène’s depiction of imperialism in France. The author examines Sembène’s representation of mothering relations as a key nodal articulation of the gendered effects of migration. She considers the protagonist’s exploitation as a source of maternal labour to support the mothering activities of her employer, and her transnational relationship with her own mother, arguing that the latter is central in articulating the abuses of neo-colonial displacement and also constructed as a potential site of empowerment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-103
Number of pages18
JournalFrench Screen Studies
Issue number2
Early online date23 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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