Grazia Ingravalle

Tuesday 06/04/2024, 6:00 pm

Grazia Ingravalle (Queen Mary University of London)

Unlearning the Archive: Moving Images' Redemption Between Hermeneutics and Postcolonial Critique

A video recording of this lecture will be available after the event.

Prompted by Ariella Aïsha Azoulay’s radical imperative to unlearn the archive as an imperial technology, this lecture examines the role of moving image archives in the aftermath of the formal dissolution of European colonial regimes. Since the turn of the nineteenth century, moving images shot in former colonies and capturing indigenous people, such as the deceptively titled Panorama of Calcutta from the River Ganges (Warwick Trading Company, 1899), have circulated globally in media contexts ranging from betterment societiy meetings to television and YouTube. Over time, this audio-visual archive has worked as an essential technology for the production, disciplining, and oppression of the colonial Other, crystallizing historicist epistemologies of progress, development, and modernity.

However, these same visual and paratextual records often reveal minor or forgotten colonial histories – as in the case of the Polish propaganda film Polish Settlements in Brazilian Wilderness (1933) – enabling us to deconstruct enduring imperialist erasures, cultures, and structures. Within this predicament, I argue, archival research and curatorship offer an opportunity to redeem (to borrow Siegfried Kracauer’s term) moving images, unlearn the archive, and undo historicist epistemologies. Drawing on Hans-Georg Gadamer’s and Dipesh Chakrabarty’s philosophical and postcolonial hermeneutics, I theorize archival film curatorship as a “hermeneutic dispositif,” that is, as a space, physical and virtual, of temporal and historical mediation with the colonial past and its legacies.

Grazia Ingravalle is Assistant Professor in Film at Queen Mary University of London. She has published extensively on film archives, early cinema, digitization, and decolonisation in edited collections and journals including The Moving Image, Screen, and the Journal of Cinema and Media Studies. Archival Film Curatorship, her first monograph, was published by Amsterdam University Press in 2023.


Lecture in English language.

Medienseminarraum, IG Farben-Gebäude 7.214
Campus Westend, Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main