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"Fire at will!" - reading the colonial massacres through the senegalese films "Emitai" (1971) and "Camp de Thiaroye" (1988), by Ousmane Sembène

Grant number: 21/13569-8
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): March 01, 2023
Effective date (End): December 31, 2023
Field of knowledge:Humanities - History - Modern and Contemporary History
Principal Investigator:Raquel Gryszczenko Alves Gomes
Grantee:Alysson Brenner Nogueira Pereira
Host Institution: Instituto de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas (IFCH). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil


Ousmane Sembène, known as the "father of African cinema", it's a senegalese writer and filmmaker who directed many films; two of these works addressed colonial Senegal during the decade of 1940, especially in the Second World War. Emitai (1971) retells the story of a massacre that occurred in the year of 1942, in Casamance, when peasants diolas refused to give colonial commanders a volume of rice higher than they were actually able to produce. The revolt, headed by Aline Diatta, was strongly repressed. Camp de Thiaroye (1988), our second primary source, is set in Thiaroye, in 1944, and tells the story of the massacre of the tirailleurs sénégalais who, after fighting for the liberation of France, return to their country and end up being killed by the settlers. The objective of the project is to analyze these sources considering their singularities as cinematographic sources, relating them to authors mobilized by postcolonial theory, such as Aimé Césaire and Frantz Fanon. Considering that both works represent a contribution to the memory of French colonization through their reconstruction of historical events, our aim is to compare them in terms of their narratives, with a particular emphasis given to the 1971 film. In addition, we intend to think about the communicative character of cinema and the political-pedagogical role in the production of Sembène, relating it to texts of Arnold Hauser and Walter Benjamin on the social character of Art.

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