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What languages do aliens speak? Multilingual ‘Otherness’ of diasporic dystopia in District 9

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District 9 (Blomkamp, 2009), a South African science-fiction film, is noted for its dystopian vision. It is mostly set in a dilapidated township of Johannesburg called ‘District 9’, where ‘abject’ refugee aliens and Nigerian gangs reside. Moreover, the district in the end becomes a chaotic battlefield where the South African mercenaries hired by neo-liberal Multi-National United and the Nigerians mercilessly hunt Wikus van de Merwe, an MNU employee, whose mutating body holds a key to operating alien weaponry. These temporary dwellers of District 9 are informed by many levels of displacement and marginalization and are presented as the ‘Other’ to the residents of the ‘human’ world and this ‘Other’ worldliness is intensified by the way in which the director forges the ‘South African’ multilingual condition in the film. This article discusses the colonial and segregationist world-view on the post-apartheid South Africa in the representation of the ‘Other’ multilingual and diasporic landscape.
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Keywords: Afrikaans; District 9; South African film; diaspora; multilingual; representation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Tokyo Woman’s Christian University

Publication date: October 1, 2016

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  • The Journal of African Cinemas will explore the interactions of visual and verbal narratives in African film. It recognizes the shifting paradigms that have defined and continue to define African cinemas. Identity and perception are interrogated in relation to their positions within diverse African film languages. The editors are seeking papers that expound on the identity or identities of Africa and its peoples represented in film.
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