Personal profile

Research interests

My research falls into four broad areas: German-language and African cinemas; film aesthetics and politics; colonial and postcolonial cultural history; and everyday cultures.

My PhD and subsequent monograph on gender and consumption in post-1945 West Germany, How German is She? Postwar West German Reconstruction and the Consuming Woman (1997), was an interdisciplinary study that drew on cultural theory, economic and social history, and analyses of consumer representations in fashion, the popular press and film to offer an account of women’s place as consumers in the regeneration of the German economy after World War II. Like other publications from the late 1980s and early 1990s, including the co-edited Taking Liberties. AIDS and Cultural Practice (1989), Space and Place. Theories of Identity and Location (1993) and Cultural Remix. Theories of Politics and the Popular (1995), this first monograph drew on insights from British cultural studies gained during my years as a graduate student affiliated to the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies.

From the mid-1990s, my focus shifted to German-language film history, the field in which I published a further monograph, Dietrich’s Ghosts. The Sublime and the Beautiful in Third Reich Film (2004), and other titles including the co-edited German Cinema Book (2002, 2nd edn. 2019). Since 2013, I have chaired the UK German Screen Studies Network (GSSN), and have worked  in that context with arts and cultural institutions including the Goethe-Institut, the British Film Institute, the British Museum, London Cinema Museum and the Frankfurt Film Museum to bring awareness of German-language film to wider audiences.

In 2018, the GSSN won two-and-a-half years' funding from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for a collaborative research project, Circulating Cinema. The Moving Image Archive as Anglo-German Contact Zone. The project represents a broader shift in my research away from questions of national cinema, and towards issues of cinematic mobilities and aesthetic experience. Projects have included a co-authored chapter on European culture under fascist occupation, and a project funded by the Kraszna-Krausz Foundation, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Screen, and the University of Warwick for a collaboration with Professor Rodney Livngstone (Emeritus, University of Southampton) on the first translated edition of two early works by Balázs, Der sichtbare Mensch (Visible Man, 1924) and Der Geist des Films (The Spirit of Film, 1930). The project reached its conclusion in 2010 with the publication in Berghahn’s Film Europa series of Béla Balázs- Early Film Theory (ed. Erica Carter, trans. Rodney Livingstone), and an accompanying  exhibition and website co-curated with photographer and curator Zsuzsanna Ardó .

Further writing on Balázs has been accompanied by new projects on political aesthetics and histories of subjectivity, including a co-edited volume on German Division as Shared Experience (Berghahn 2019). Since 2017, I have been working towards a new monograph, White Bodies in Motion, which explores the place of cinema in creating mobile senses of community for postwar British expatriates in the last years of British colonial rule. I am also collaborating with the Arsenal Institute for Film and Video Art, Berlin, Sudan Film Factory, and the family of Sudanese artist-filmmaker Hussein Shariffe to retrieve and recirculate films and documents by Shariffe to new audiences in Sudan and the diaspora. 

Research interests (short)

  • German-language and African cinemas
  • Film aesthetics and politics
  • Feminist cultural and film studies
  • Béla Balázs: film theory 
  • Everyday history
  • Colonial and postcolonial cultural history

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production

External positions

Invited research project member, Cinema of mobility across the Hispanic Atlantic/ Cartografías del cine de movilidad en el Hispánico Atlántico Project funded by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness of the Spanish Government and supported with European Regional Development Funds, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

20182020

Senior Research Fellow, Cinepoetics Center for Advanced Film Studies, FU-Berlin

9 Jan 201731 Mar 2018

Honorary Professor, University of Nottingham

1 Sept 20131 Jul 2017

Chair, German Screen Studies Network

1 Jan 201231 Jan 2021

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