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The term “transnational” has since the late 1980s evolved from signaling the generalized permeability of borders to the current usage in which it has taken on, as well, what had been previously meant by the adjective “international.” In contradistinction to “global,” a concept bound up with the philosophical category of totality, and in contrast to “international,” natasˇa dˇurovicˇová x predicated on political systems in a latent relationship of parity, as signaled by the prefix “inter-,” the intermediate and open term “transnational” acknowledges the persistent agency of the state, in a varying but fundamentally legitimizing relationship to the scale of “the nation.” At the same time, the prefix “trans-” implies relations of unevenness and mobility.It is this relative openness to modalities of geopolitical forms, social relations and especially to the variant scale on which relations in film history have occurred that gives this key term its dynamic force, and its utility as a frame for hypotheses about emergent forms.Outlined here is a typology of uneven exchanges, of the possible alliances between various kinds of agents reaching across a border to make a larger-than-(small-)national film and in the process creating future conditions for innovative formal and cultural-political projects in which the link between size and importance (itself a gage of scale) could be broken.As has been the case most notably with the Dogme group, “small” can under such circumstances have a global impact.
First, there are those approaches in which the formation identified as transnational is a fundamentally spatial construct, reflects a relatively contemporary development within the unfolding process of globalization, and presents itself as directly political.
The differential line of this space can range from that comprising a cross-border geography to a fault-line of compression, across which incompatible or incongruent spatial formations are brought into one another’s sphere of influence (what in cultural geography would be referred to as “scale jumping”).
A second strategy among the chapters foregrounds an agenda that is oriented critically, and diachronically.
Gathered in three overlapping parts, the contributions vary in scope, ranging from conceptual inquires in the discipline, through reconsiderations of well-established research questions to shorter, focused analyses departing from the textual level.
Chapters in Part One, “The Geopolitical Imaginary of Cinema Studies,” take on the current configuration of world cinema, and the geopolitics of the international film history, that is, the institutional patterns of production, distribution, and exhibition on the scale of the national, the regional and the global; Part Two, “Cinema as Transnational Exchange,” gathers specific approaches to the representability and/or intelligibility of the global via the cinema; the contributions in Part Three, “Comparative Perspectives,” foreground methodological pathways for comparative approaches to the historical study of films in the context of globalization.