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How White Fantasies Turn to Nightmares

Midsommer (Nordisk Film, 2019)
Tuesday, November 28, 2023, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

This presentation contributes to the surging, interdisciplinary field of race and whiteness in relation to East European histories and cultures. It explores the fantasy foundation that allows European nations to transcend the history of racial violence, and which connects Eastern and Western European manifestations of “white innocence.” To do so, it brings together two areas normally separated from each other: representations of, and the political economy of images and narratives that sustain racial exceptionalism in the region. It examines the service media industries as a sector where fantasies of East European white nationalism and corporate fantasies of whiteness meet. Among other examples, the presentation juxtaposes the recent folk-horror film Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019), shot in Hungary, with ritual mythic-folk nationalistic performances that support white nationalism in Hungary today. 

Anikó Imre is a Professor in the School of Cinematic Arts of the University of Southern California. She has published and lectures widely in comparative media studies and global communication, with a focus on (post)socialist media industries and cultures in relation to populism and popular culture, television, digital surveillance, nationalism, race, gender and sexuality. Her books include the monographs TV Socialism (Duke UP, 2016) and Identity Games: Globalization and the Transformation of Media Cultures in the New Europe (MIT Press, 2011).