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The Politics of Race in American Film Podcast

A limited run podcast from the US Centre exploring the intersections of race, gender, place in film.

The Politics of Race in American Film is a limited podcast series from the LSE US Centre, hosted by Dr Clive James Nwonka, and released in the spring of 2021. Over five episodes this podcast explores what makes film such a powerful lens for understanding race, politics & society.


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Episode 1 - The Politics of Race in American Film

What can film teach us about the evolution of racial politics and depictions of race in the United States?

In Episode 1 of The Politics of Race in American FilmDr Clive Nwonka outlines the history and research that has shaped this series – from his own love of cinema as a child growing up in London to his career as an academic at the LSE. Dr Nwonka then welcomes our first guest, Dr Sam Mejias, to discuss the films that shaped their early ideas about race, how film influences people’s perceptions about the Black experience in America, and how depictions of Black life in America have changed over time.

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Episode 2, Race, Space, and The City

In this episode of The Politics of Race in American Film podcast, Dr. Clive James Nwonka discusses the films Paterson and The Last Black Man in San Francisco with Dr. Suzanne Hall (LSE Sociology) and Dr. Austin Zeiderman (LSE Geography and the Environment). Both films examine the relationships their main characters have with the cities in which they live, work, and create, but the protagonists of each film, Paterson and Jimmie, have radically different experiences of urban life. 

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Episode 3, Class, Gender, and Freedom at the Edges of America

In this episode of The Politics of Race in American Film, Dr. Clive James Nwonka hosts a conversation with Melanie Hoyes (British Film Institute), Dr. Luisa Heredia (Sarah Lawrence College), and Dr. Shelley Cobb (University of Southampton) about the films American Honey and The Florida Project.This conversation explores the films’ themes of economic precarity, the absence and ineptitude of the state as a site of assistance, and the communities that form outside of that system. The discussion also explores depictions of Latinidad, biracial identity, gender and white femininity.


Episode 4, Hollywood Representations of Blackness

In this episode of The Politics of Race in American Film, Dr. Clive James Nwonka hosts a conversation with Cheryl Bedford (Women of Color Unite), Lanre Bakare (The Guardian), and Sam Mejias (The New School) which looks at films which engage with questions of blackness and race in America during the Obama and Trump eras. These films include Moonlight, Get Out, Us, Queen and Slim, Waves, Harriet, and more recently, Judas and the Black Messiah. What do these films tell us about the politics of race, both within the industry and more broadly in American society, and how we see African American films (or African Americans within film) shaping and influencing the racial politics of the US? What might be next for African American cinema in the era of Joe Biden?

Header image credit: Photo by Matt Botsford on Unsplash

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