Gertjan Willems on ‘Nationalism and Film: Towards a New Research Agenda’

Gertjan Willems on ‘Nationalism and Film: Towards a New Research Agenda’

The final plenary from the joint ASEN-NISE 2022 Conference on Nationalism and Media will be broadcast live on YouTube and Facebook.


The majority of research on the relationship between nationalism and film has focused on the representation of nations, nationalism and national identities in feature films. This leaves open a wide array of underexplored research possibilities, of which some of the most pertinent ones will be addressed in this talk. Research on the history of nationalism and film in Flanders will serve as a stepping stone to explore new research avenues. I will discuss, among other things, the value of integrated analyses combining the dominant method of representation analysis with production and reception analysis; the importance of a broad conception of nationalism; the notion of multiplicity, both in terms of attention for multiple co-existing national discourses and in terms of the relations between national, subnational and transnational discourses; the relevance of the concept of national indifference for film studies; the potential of amateur films and home movies for a bottom-up approach to nationalism research. The aim of this talk is to formulate a new research agenda for future nationalism and film studies, thereby also touching upon possible new directions for the field of nationalism and media studies at large.

About Michael

Gertjan Willems is a film and media scholar. He is assistant professor at the University of Antwerp. He is affiliated to the Research Centre for Visual Poetics (dept. of Literature) and the Visual and Digital Cultures Research Centre (dept. of Communication Sciences). He is also a guest professor at the Centre for Cinema and Media Studies at Ghent University. He has been guest lecturer or visiting scholar at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, Saint-Louis University Brussels, the University of Amsterdam, the Belgian Historical Institute in Rome, the Université Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas, and the University of York. Since 2016, he is chair of the Film Studies section of ECREA (European Communication Research and Education Association).

His research interests are aimed at a critical analysis of film and media. He has particular research expertise in media and nation-building, Belgian film history, film adaptations. He is the author of a Dutch-language monograph on the relation between film policy and nation-building in Flanders (2017) and editor of European Film Remakes (with Eduard Cuelenaere and Stijn Joye, 2021) and a Dutch-language anthology on the history of media and nation-building in Flanders (with Bruno De Wever, 2020). He published various articles in journals such as Nations and NationalismHistorical Journal of Film, Radio and TelevisionJournal of Belgian History and Journal of Popular Film and Television. You can find out more about Gertjan at his blog