Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2013

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Film Studies

First Advisor

Creekmur, Corey K

First Committee Member

Amad, Paula

Second Committee Member

Kumar, Priya

Third Committee Member

Lutgendorf, Philip

Fourth Committee Member

Greenough, Paul

Fifth Committee Member

Scullion, Rosemarie


In this dissertation, I will explore how 1990s and 2000s British, Irish and South Asian historical films represented the violent legacy of partition on the island of Ireland and in South Asia, respectively. I contend that a cross-regional and cross-national examination of the relationships between national memory, national cinema and minority will reveal that partition had a similar effect on Irish, South Asian and Northern Irish societies: the alignment of a normative national identity with a particular religious identity. This study will explore how key Irish, British and South Asian cinematic texts, despite being produced in disparate production contexts, similarly represent the brutal marginalization of gendered and religious minorities as a central legacy of partition.

In my engagement with these films, I have two central areas of exploration. The first is how these films challenge state or majoritarian histories by presenting themselves as historical texts that correct the historical record. I will show how state histories (Michael Collins), majoritarian narratives (Hey!Ram), repressed gendered minority histories (Khamosh Pani, The Magdalene Sisters) and post-conflict narratives (Five Minutes of Heaven and Fiza) contest majoritarian or colonial histories.

The second, and ancillary, area of exploration is how the international trauma film genre influences the films' respective representations of atrocity. I argue that trauma theory can help us understand minorities' relationship to the state and the ongoing impact of particular historical events on community and nation. To ground my comparative analysis, I draw from postcolonial theory, poststructuralism and trauma theory. In conclusion, I will contend that these films' minority figures remind us of the dangers of nationalism's limited imaginative boundaries and the role that cinema plays in helping us to think beyond its limitations.


forgiveness, Ireland, partition, sectarian &communal violence, South Asia, trauma


xi, 218 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 212-218).


Copyright 2013 Ellen Elizabeth Sweeney