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From Third Worldism to Empire: Jean-Luc Godard and the Palestine Question

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Through the lens of two films by the Swiss film-maker Jean-Luc Godard, Ici et ailleurs (1970-1974) and Notre musique (2004), in which he addresses the Palestine Question, the article sketches out the discursive shifts in geopolitical engagement from the French movement of Third Worldism to current cultural wars and interventionism. In the late 1960s and early 1970s artists, writers, journalists and film-makers produced works speaking for and about revolutionary struggles in the Third World. When Third Worldism was dismissed as a sort of aberration of decadent Socialism that threatened people's rights, a new de-ideologised form of emancipation of the people of the Third World called for the imperative to safeguard their human rights. This led to new figures of alterity in the 1980s and 1990s, the 'suffering other' that needs to be rescued and to the post-colonial 'subaltern' demanding restitution, presupposing that visibility would follow emancipation. For Godard, contemporary righteous cultural (and actual) wars stand against a 'sky red with explosions and restored ruins, still in flames, purporting the false unity of a culturalised past as the condition of possibility of a present of 'coexistence'.

Keywords: Geoaesthetics; Ici et ailleurs; Jean-Luc Godard; Notre musique; Palestine Question; Third Worldism; aesthetics; cultural wars; ethics; human rights; politics of recognition and restitution

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: September 1, 2009

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