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Filiation as Promise and Peril: Transcultural Memory and Ambivalent Intersubjectivity in Shira Geffen’s BOREG (Self Made)

Mon, December 17, 10:30am to 12:00pm, Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, Cityview 1 Ballroom


This paper will consider how the cinematic articulation of a stoically ambivalent, transcultural intersubjectivity serves to map the contours of an ethics of filiation in Shira’s Geffen’s film BOREG. The film crafts a poetics of intertwined bodies and physicalities in order to yoke together seemingly disparate genealogies that in turn come to possess a shared horizon of possibilities. The shared horizon is further intensified through an aesthetics of silences and an averted gaze; it is an aesthetics which simultaneously belies and highlights histories of systemic violence visited upon the bodies of occupied and occupier alike. The film similarly depicts this horizon as accessed and blocked by interlanguage, or the always in-progress aspect of the task of learning a foreign language and its culture. This shared horizon may inspire hopefulness, but it simultaneously may inspire fear, disgust, unease and despair. The result is thus an ambivalent intersubjectivity, where characters must grapple with the ethics of a filiation they did not choose and that they cannot escape. While philosophical and now neuroscientific debates concerning the intersubjective have focused on the extent to which it is affective or cognitive, on the one hand, and fact or fantasy, on the other, here the notion of a cinematically-mediated ambivalent intersubjectivity creates the critical space to articulate uncertainty in the steps of bodies on the move. The cinematic world of Geffen’s film is thus one where the periodization of the traumas of discrete wars gives way to sliding scales of identification that reflect and further complicate the ever-present yet never-visible violence of the current political moment.


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