Flickering Shadows

Cinema and Identity in Colonial Zimbabwe

J. M. Burns



J. M. Burns pieces together the history of the cinema in Rhodesia, examining film production, audience reception, and state censorship, to reconstruct the story of how Africans in one nation became consumers of motion pictures. Movies were a valued “tool of empire” designed to assimilate Africans into a new colonial order. Inspired by an inflated confidence in the medium, Rhodesian government officials created an African Film industry that was unprecedented in its size and scope. Flickering Shadows tells the fascinating story of how motion pictures were introduced and negotiated in a colonial setting.


[Burns] has assembled an impressive amount of evidence — visual, written and verbal…This is an informative work which offers a model for historically informed scholarship on African film. - Patrick Williams, Modern African Studies


J. M. Burns is a professor of African history at Clemson University.