Early Cinema, Modernity and Visual Culture
Early Cinema, Modernity and Visual Culture
The Imaginary of the Balkans
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Table of Contents
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Foreword: Travelling Down /Travelling Through
Preface: The Balkan Imaginary of Ruins

Introduction: Charting the Terrain: Early Cinema in the Balkans

1. Visual Culture in the Balkans, Haptic Visuality, and Archival Moving Images
My Journey through Savage Europe
Hapticality of Archival Moving Images
Hapticality of Visual Culture in the Balkans
The Byzantine Cultural Legacy
The Ottoman Cultural Legacy
Architecture, Fresco Painting, Icons, Textiles, and Jewellery
'Image survivante' and the Legacy of Balkan Visual Culture
The Difference in Perception

2. Historicizing the Balkan Spectator and the Embodied Cinema Experience
Anticipating Cinema
The Arrival of Cinema: Haptical Encounters with Moving Images
The Spaces of Cinema and Coffee Consumption
Cinema and 'Intensive Life'
Cinema in the City
Looking Back at Cinema

3. Mapping Constellations : Movement and Cross-cultural Exchange of Images, Practices, and People
Journeys from the East: Cross-Cultural Travels of the Shadow-Puppet Theatre
The Cinematograph at the Theatre
Travelling Cinema Exhibitors and Filmmakers
The Mysterious Hungarian and the Serbian-Bulgarian Connection
The Balkan Cinema Pioneers and the Lost Gaze
Cinema and the Global Imaginary

4. Imagining the Balkans: The Cinematic Gaze from the Outside
Exoticism and the Balkans
The Orientalist Gaze in the Marubi Studio Photographs
'Oriental' Austria: Cinematic Representations of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Sensational Killings and Wild Insurgents at the Cinema
The Charles Urban Trading Company in the Balkans
Imperial Imagination, Archives, and Moving images
The Reverberations of Balkan Wars and Siege of Shkodra

5. 'Made in the Balkans': Mirroring the Self
The Desire for 'Our' Views
High-life and the Pleasure of the Screen
Scientific Spectacles
Views of Ethnographic and Socio-Political Significance
Pictures of Home
Constructing the Nation through Cinema
Historical Drama from Serbia
Historical Epic from Romania

Conclusion: The Future Perfect of Early Balkan Cinema

Bibliography Appendix Index

Reviews and Features

Honourable Mention for the BASEES Women’s Forum Prizes 2022
"This impressive monograph makes a major contribution to the emerging field of early Balkan cinema history as well as to early cinema studies more broadly, providing a fascinating account of how moving images were both made and consumed in the Balkans."
- BASEES Women’s Forum Prize Committee

"An impressive, exhaustively researched work on Balkan early cinema grounded in regional and transnational layers of a culture history of visuality and geopolitics in modern times."
- Zhen Zhang, New York University Tisch School Tisch School of the Arts

"Grgic understands early cinema as a cultural “imaginary” more than a delimitable set of objects. This not only aligns her work with the more speculative and archaeological work in the field but also ends up bolstering her argument that cinema’s legacy in this region is to be sought in the systematic representation and persistence of certain dynamics of colonialism, othering, and self-representation."
- Ezster Polonyi, Iluminace, Volume 34, 2022, No. 3

"This is a different story of modernity with tensions between memory and forgetting, the archive and its absent films, the Balkan gaze and the Oriental gaze. Grgi. enhances and offers alternatives to the prevailing notions and concepts of early cinema scholarship."
- Nezih Erdogan, Istinye University

"Early cinema, visual culture and modernity: The Imaginary of the Balkans is the first English-language synthetic volume in the still emerging field of early Balkan cinema history, an area marked by the extreme scarcity of multilingual sources. [...] Grgi.’s book is indeed an existential journey through the cinema history and memory of the Balkans. [...] On the road, crossing frontiers, bridging gaps and affronting the dramatic lacunas of fragmentary film and text collections while continuously translating the regional languages, the author takes the reader by the hand from an Archival center to another."
- Mélisande Leventopoulos, Studies in Eastern European Cinema

"Ana Grgic’s book is the first attempt to present early cinema in the Balkans in all its diversity and intricacy: not as the parallel existence of separate national protocinemas but as a unitary phenomenon. [...] The book consists of five chapters, each dealing with a major issue representative of early cinema itself and specific for its reception in the Balkans: the art of seeing, spectator’s experience, pioneers, external gaze, and identity. The sequence of these epistemological perspectives on the Balkan early cinema reproduces the path of its emancipation from visual tradition and external influences toward the assertion of modernity in the context of local culture."
- Alexander Donev, Technology & Culture Journal

"Following Ana Grgi.’s trajectory for the history of early Balkan cinema requires accepting her research premise that borders of all types must be effaced in order to best locate places, artists, or films. [...] For the book’s readers, the unexplored land becomes the multi-ethnic and multicultural Balkans that the author investigates with the goal of advocating for a culturally convergent academic approach to Balkan early cinema."
- Delia Enyedi, Apparatus. Film, Media and Digital Cultures in Central and Eastern Europe

Ana Grgic

Early Cinema, Modernity and Visual Culture

The Imaginary of the Balkans

Based on original archival research, Early Cinema, Modernity and Visual Culture: The Imaginary of the Balkans is the first study on early cinema in the region from a transnational and cross-cultural perspective. It investigates how the unique geopolitical positioning of the Balkan space and its multiculturality influenced and shaped visual culture and cinema. Countering Eurocentric modernity paradigms and reframing hierarchical relations between centres and peripheries, this book adopts an alternative methodology for interstitial spaces. By deploying the notion of the haptic, it establishes new connections between moving image artefacts and print media, early film practitioners, the socio-political context and cultural responses to the new visual medium.

Ana Grgic

Ana Grgic (PhD, University of St Andrews) is Associate Professor at Babes-Bolyai University. Her research on Balkan cinemas, archives, and cultural memory has appeared in Early Popular Visual Culture, Studies in Eastern European Cinema, Film Quarterly, and KinoKultura. She is co-editor of Contemporary Balkan Cinema: Transnational Exchanges and Global Circuits (2020), and is Associate Editor of Studies in World Cinema.