On Alterities 1968 Newsreels

The focus of the fourth issue of On_Culture is the presentation of ‘alterity’ in newsreels. This issue comes as a result of ‘The 1968 Newsreel’ collaborative research project, led by doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers at the International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture (GCSC), Justus Liebig University Giessen. Members from the GCSC Research Area 8: Cultures of Knowledge, Research, and Education and from RA 5: Media and Multiliteracy Studies launched the project in 2014 together with the working group Film und Filmtheorie. Throughout the last four years, over ten associates of the project have organized workshops and master classes and have held regular meetings to discuss individual, nationally focused research on newsreels and broader theoretical-methodological issues. The project speakers Danae Gallo González and Lyubomir Pozharliev would like to express their gratitude to all those who enriched this project and helped to bring this publication into being. Particularly, we would like to thank Prof. Roel Vande Winkel and Dr. Doris Bachmann-Medick, who held inspiring Master Classes and lectures at the GCSC. We would also like to express our gratitude to the GCSC for its financial and moral support, and to the great Editorial Team that managed the publication process. The concept of ‘alterity’ has different meanings, and one of the objectives of this volume is to explore the multiplicity of its usages, as well as some relational, moral, and ethical aspects of the understanding of Othernesses. Following the approach of the study of culture, ‘alterity’ could broadly be defined as “culturally determined perceptions of differences.” […]

Political Alterity in Pathé’s French and British Newsreel Coverage of the May 1968 Events in Paris


This article analyzes the use of alterity in Pathé’s British and French newsreels depicting the May 1968 events in Paris. It argues that items from both newsreels construct the viewers’ country as a center of civilized democracy, using various figures of alterity (including voiceover, dubbing, camera techniques, cuts, and other forms of editing) to distance those at home from the scenes of violence on the streets of Paris. The French newsreel presents Charles de Gaulle as a democratic leader and blames naïve students in the Latin Quarter for inflaming violent sentiments among the impressionable “ordinary workers.” By contrast, the British newsreel presents the French government as failing to control a warlike mob with unreasonable demands. Though they frame the divisions along different lines, the items from both newsreels use alterity to differentiate their audiences from the protestors on the street and to place the responsibility for the riots far from home.

‘University is Ill’

Representations of the Italian Student Crisis in 1968 Radar Cinematografica Newsreels.


In 1968, the protest culture of the younger generation reached its peak internationally, and it was at the universities that students ignited the turmoil. That same year, Italy too intensely experienced such student protest against the political, social and cultural status quo.

This article aims at exploring how the events related to the student protests at Italian universities were portrayed in three 1968 Radar Cinematografica newsreel items. After a brief historical contextualization of the Italian student crisis, each newsreel item will be examined for the traces of alterity between students and the ‘establishment,’ as featured in the voice-over commentaries. In doing so, I intend to investigate the extent to which these newsreel items’ representations of the Italian student protest movement depicted the sociocultural fracture between university students and society in that year. As far as the theoretical framework of this article is concerned, it will be shaped by Michael Pickering’s concept of the ‘stereotypical Other,’ since I aim at looking into how the clash of political views and ways of thinking society is portrayed in these newsreel items by means of a process of alterization of the students and their protest actions.

Otherness in the Context of Martin Luther King’s Assassination in Les Actualités Françaises of 1968


The concept of alterity is always related to identity, and based on one’s self-perception: the Self influences what we perceive as the Other. Following this idea, the present article explores the hidden Self of French cultural identity in French newsreels, Les Actualités Françaises, from 1968. It examines the construction and representation of alterity in the news coverage of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, and, consequently, what that reveals about French national self-perception. This event is notable for two reasons: first, Dr. King’s death is an event of extraordinary international importance; second, the news coverage not only presents alterity, but also the handling of alterity by another culture. Therefore, in this example, the concept of alterity operates on multiple levels.

The objective of this article is to analyze the interaction of image, music, text, and voice-over in this newsreel; the newsreel’s effect on the French viewers; and the French national self-perception that is mirrored in the newsreel’s representation. The argument will show that deep-rooted French values, existing since the French Revolution, have a strong influence on the perception and evaluation of the events in the US, and therefore on the handling of otherness.

Politics and Political Alterity in the Spanish NO-DOs of 1968


NO-DO is the official name of the Spanish state newsreels, an acronym formed by the abbreviation of Noticiarios (News) and Documentales (Documentaries). In contrast to cinema newsreels in other occidental countries, NO-DO is closely associated with Franco’s dictatorship (1939–1975). Created by Franco’s propaganda ministry in 1943, NO-DO reels were shown until 1981, just a few years after Franco’s death in 1975. The aim of this paper is to analyze Spanish newsreels’ modes of representation of politics and of political alterity in Mouffe’s sense. It seeks to examine how NO-DO portrays the political antagonism that facilitated the Francoist regime’s construction of its own identity. In order to do so, the paper firsts draw a genealogy of this genre in Spain and frames it within the context of 1968. Second, it presents an overview of the contents and the modes of representations of the newsreels during this year, later focusing on the timeframe from May to August. The goal is to examine the medial strategies used by the newsreel genre to deal with political Others lurking within and beyond Spain’s borders.

Newsreels from 1968 Communist Bulgaria

The Encompassing Us vs. the Different Them


This study provides an original interpretation of 53 newsreels, produced and projected in the People’s Republic of Bulgaria in the year 1968. Based on a thorough audio-visual analysis, the article shows that newsreels are prime examples for the power of politics to employ visual art and the unique features of cinema for its own aims. The study has three main findings. First, it establishes the multifaceted role of newsreels in Bulgaria in the historical context of 1968, drawing particular attention to the dynamic relations between the Soviet and Bulgarian peoples. Second, it investigates the ways in which newsreels construct underlying ideological oppositions and visual presentations of Us versus Them. More specifically, the article outlines several distinct forms of and relations between Us and Them in their historical and ideological contextualization. Third, the article shows that Bulgarian newsreels from 1968 cannot be regarded as one among many kinds of works of socialist art, or as just visualized news. Newsreels carry a strongly politicized message and are therefore a highly potent means of shaping and manipulating the public opinion. The article contributes to the broader field of newsreel studies, offering new insight to a subject matter that is still underrepresented.

Re-aligning Yugoslavia

The Construction of Alterity in the Yugoslav Newsreels


During the 1960s, Filmske Novosti (the state-run Yugoslav Newsreels) played a key role in the representation of President Josip Broz Tito’s international travels. Tito visited newly independent African and Asian countries in search of political alliances, and the newsreel reports framed these diplomatic travels as solidarity performances. Assigning two cameramen to follow the presidential trips Filmske Novosti produced a series of portraits of nascent nation states and their receptions of Tito, accentuating a discourse of similarity and unity as a challenge to Western political hegemony. As Yugoslav Newsreels extended their reach, exchanging these reports with a total of 40 countries by the end of the 1960s, their work became an influential medium advocating the process of decolonization in the international arena. This article looks at the legacy and perspective they offer in constructing narratives of an ‘alternate’ representation of non-aligned countries to Yugoslav audiences. It further argues that this strategy of representation had significant consequences for the political situation within Yugoslavia. In 1968, this narrative resulted in a public sentiment of solidarity and identification which became evident in the protests that erupted in Yugoslavia, revealing how the internal political narrative was also reshaped in terms of alterity.

Alterity — A Category of Practice and Analysis

Preliminary Remarks


This article provides introductory remarks on the concept of ‘alterity,’ which could stimulate the discussion on newsreels/media and their representation of the Other. Starting from the observation that ‘alterity’ has often been overshadowed by an overestimation of ‘identity,’ the article differentiates between various fields of ‘alterity’: amongst them, ‘real alterity’ in societal practice, ‘representational alterity’ in media contexts, and attitudes of ‘othering’ in movements between alterity or alienness. It critically brings to the fore some underlying frameworks and unspoken assumptions. Finally, the article asks whether the positioning of alterity in 20th-century newsreels has provided first approaches for overcoming its binary corset in the direction of a global circulation of images. Can this perhaps be seen as a step towards turning our attention to a revaluation and new recognition of the Other?