Moumen Smihi: Cinema and Arab Modernities

Peter Limbrick
Film and Digital Media
UC Santa Cruz

This project investigates the work of Moroccan film director Moumen Smihi to better understand the relationship between Arab cinema and the historical experiences of colonialism and modernity. In addressing Smihi‚Äôs films’ rich images and narratives of colonial encounter, the project analyzes the ways in which Euro-American critical discourses have struggled to understand the relationship of Arab cultural production to a modernity that is often conceived as exclusively Euro-American. Using Smihi’s films as a lens, this book rethinks those relationships, stressing long histories of mutual influence and exchange that destabilize accounts of Arab modernisms as derivative products of cultural borrowing or colonial imposition. Smihi’s work offers a compelling vision of the way that cinema has animated relationships between Arab and non-Arab worlds, thus transforming the way we think about the axes of history, colonialism, nationalism, and modernity across the Middle East.