Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Faculty Research Forum
From Elif to Esty?: Unorthodox and Turkish German Cinema's Captivity Narrative
Assistant Professor, Modern Languages and Literatures Department
The 2020 Netflix drama series Unorthodox draws on tropes from a vexed archive of transcultural cinema, in particular Turkish German cinema. Through the frame of the captivity narrative, Olivia Landry's talk examines how the series about a young Hasidic Jewish woman who escapes her family and community in Williamsburg, NY and flees to Berlin presents culturally determined themes of victimhood, oppression, and gendered subjugation. A comparison with Turkish German films calls attention to the continuity of the captivity narrative with its troubling themes and asks the question of intent. As scholars have indicated in the case of Turkish German cinema, filmmakers have frequently been faced with the task of appealing to German mainstream audiences eager to see their own cultural stereotypes reaffirmed on screen. Rooted in colonialist and orientalist fantasies, the captivity narrative provided an effective conduit. But what is it still doing in Unorthodox?
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