Sites of struggle: representations of family in Spanish film (1996-2004)
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This thesis analyses how ways of thinking about and meanings of family are (re)negotiated and (re)presented in six films that, to varying degrees, are categorised as cine social. The group of films consists of Familia (León de Aranoa, 1996), Solas (Zambrano, 1999), Flores de otro mundo (Bollaín, 1999), Poniente (Gutiérrez, 2002), Te doy mis ojos (Bollaín, 2003) and Cachorro (Albaladejo, 2004). Despite the growing body of critical work on the wide-ranging social themes they deal with, little sustained attention has been given to their representations of family. Scholars tend to mention it only in passing, or refer back to the allegorical/mediating function that family has often played in Spanish cinema. The objective of this thesis is to place the emphasis, as the films do themselves, on the family per se. Insights into family from a range of academic fields including philosophy, sociology, feminist and queer theories and cultural, race and gender studies are combined with close textual readings and a consideration of the modes of representation and address employed in the films to analyse how they function as sites of ideological struggle. The thesis begins by sketching out historically and culturally situated definitions of family and providing an overview of some of its most iconic representations in Spanish cinema. Establishing many of the aspects developed in the main body of the thesis the first chapter concentrates on Familia, which denaturalises the hegemonic family by presenting it as a self-conscious performance. The subsequent four chapters focus on family forms, roles, practices, commitment, power dynamics and domestic space. They explore how the films’ affective and informed modes of address position the spectator in relation to criticisms of the traditional family and evaluations of emerging family ideologies, finally proposing that they could usefully be viewed as a cycle of postmodern family melodramas.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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