The Cultural 'Imaginary' and Global Cultural Flow of Canadian Aboriginal Movies---1960s to Present

Project: National Science and Technology CouncilNational Science and Technology Council Academic Grants

Project Details


This study is a continuation of the issues that arise in the Canadian Aboriginal Movies the in the late twentieth century, especially in the 1960s to 1990s. In retrospect, issues including political (pro-independence movement in Quebec), racial/ethnic, aboriginal rights, and social (gender relations, equality issues for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered) in the past century (twentieth century) have been extensively discussed and debated. At the turn of the century, George Melnyk in his book Radical Regionalism (1983) holds a vision of “radical regionalism” that is particularly important for Westerners struggling to come to grips with Canadian distinctiveness. He sees in particular the Métis, the nation born of the intermarriage between Europeans (mostly French) and Aboriginals (mostly Cree) as being a crucial metaphor for Western Canada and Canadian identity generally. Jerry White in The Cinema of Canada (2006) tries to give a sense of the three distinctive cinematic traditions that have emerged in the nation-state. Whether Quebec or Aboriginal communities are locations of national identity that can supersede Canadian identity is a question that he wants to avoid. He has built his book on two assumptions: that Canada is a nation-state; it provides a reasonable way to organize a cinematic inquiry; and that Canada has within it three groups whose cohesiveness go back to its foundation as a nation-state and remain very much part of its contemporary experience. English-Canadian, French-Canadian/Québécois, and Aboriginal cultures, like their films, never really existed as monolithic groups, as Saul acknowledges in his discussion of the “triangle” metaphor. What are the connections between cultural policies and filmmaking within the context of globalization? This paper aims to situate its discussions of the Canadian Aboriginal films with the generation of its unique cultural sphere. This paper considers the ideas brought about in Arjun Appadurai’s Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization and concurs that the expression such as “the world is growing smaller” and witnesses its reality in our lives. Appadurai places these challenges and pleasures of contemporary life in a broad global perspective and offers a new framework for the cultural study of globalization. He also shows how the imagination works as a social force in today’s world, providing new resources for identity and energies for creating alternatives to the nation-state. Appadurai examines the current era of globalization, which is characterized by the twin forces of mass migration and electronic mediation. He considers the way images of lifestyles, popular culture, and self-representation circulate internationally through the media and are often borrowed in inventive fashions. From Appadurai’s view of cultural activity known as the imaginary, or the social imaginary, this paper further presents the five dimensions of global cultural flow (ethnoscapes, mediascapes, technoscapes, financescapes, ideoscapes) in the contentions of the relationship between filmmaking and cultural policy.

Project IDs

Project ID:PE9807-1744
External Project ID:NSC98-2410-H182-014
Effective start/end date01/08/0931/07/10


  • Shakespeare
  • the Liberties
  • Shoreditch
  • Eastcheap
  • history plays
  • licentiousness


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