Join us for Booktalk Episode 9, Professor Deborah Starr (Cornell University) in conversation about her new book, Togo Mizrahi and the Making of Egyptian Cinema, published by California Press.
Professor Walter Armbrust (St Antony's College, Oxford) chairs the discussion.
Extract from publisher’s website: In this book, Deborah Starr recuperates the work of Togo Mizrahi, a pioneer of Egyptian cinema. Mizrahi, an Egyptian Jew with Italian nationality, established himself as a prolific director of popular comedies and musicals in the 1930s and 1940s. As a studio owner and producer, Mizrahi promoted the idea that developing a local cinema industry was a project of national importance. Togo Mizrahi and the Making of Egyptian Cinema integrates film analysis with film history to tease out the cultural and political implications of Mizrahi’s work. His movies, Starr argues, subvert dominant notions of race, gender, and nationality through their playful—and queer—use of masquerade and mistaken identity. Taken together, Mizrahi’s films offer a hopeful vision of a pluralist Egypt. By re-evaluating Mizrahi’s contributions to Egyptian culture, Starr challenges readers to reconsider the debates over who is Egyptian and what constitutes national cinema.
Deborah Starr is a professor of Near Eastern Studies and director of the Jewish Studies Program at Cornell University. She writes and teaches about issues of identity and inter-communal exchange in Middle Eastern literature and film, with a focus on the Jews of Egypt. She is the author of Remembering Cosmopolitan Egypt: Literature, Culture, and Empire (Routledge 2009), and co-editor with Sasson Somekh of Mongrels or Marvels: The Levantine Writings of Jacqueline Shohet Kahanoff. Her new book Togo Mizrahi and The Making of Egyptian Cinema (University of California Press, 2020) recuperates the work of a Jewish a pioneer of Egyptian cinema. Starr has also published articles in a variety of journals on cosmopolitanism and levantinism in modern Arabic and Hebrew literature and Egyptian cinema
Professor Walter Armbrust is a Hourani Fellow and Professor in Modern Middle Eastern Studies. He is a cultural anthropologist, and author of Mass Culture and Modernism in Egypt (1996); Martyrs and Tricksters: An Ethnography of the Egyptian Revolution (2019); and various other works focusing on popular culture, politics and mass media in Egypt. He is editor of Mass Mediations: New Approaches to Popular Culture in the Middle East and Beyond (2000).
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Speakers: Professor Deborah Starr (Cornell University)
Chair: Professor Walter Armbrust (St Antony’s College, Oxford)