Journal of Romance Studies

Liquid visuality: Douglas Sirk’s La Habanera and insular Atlantic studies

Journal of Romance Studies (2014), 14, (2), 62–77.

Abstract

In Douglas Sirk’s last UFA studios film, La Habanera (1937), the island of Tenerife poses as Puerto Rico, Caribbean culture translates as vague Hispanic pastiche, and Nazi propaganda speaks through Zarah Leander’s trance performances in the course of the Spanish Civil War. Taking Sirk’s singularly perverse visual text as a starting point, this article addresses the function of island spaces in Nazi melodrama, and explores how gendered bodies and family arrangements figure at critical moments in ideologically charged representations of insular Atlantic environments. The film’s strategic inscription of insular stereotypes comments on fantasies of the defunct Spanish Empire and on the besieged Second Spanish Republic, as an indirect means of reflecting on colonialist desires in Nazi Germany.

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Rentschler, Eric (1996) The Ministry of Illusion: Nazi Cinema and Its Afterlife (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press). The Ministry of Illusion: Nazi Cinema and Its Afterlife Google Scholar

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Stephens, Michelle (July 2013) ‘What is an island? Caribbean studies and the contemporary visual artist’, Small Axe 41, 8–26. What is an island? Caribbean studies and the contemporary visual artist Small Axe 41 8 26 Google Scholar

Trumpener, Katie (1994) ‘Puerto Rico fever: Douglas Sirk, La Habanera (1937), and the epistemology of exoticism’, in ‘Neue Welt / Dritte Welt’: Interkulturelle Beziehungen Deutschlands zu Lateinamerika und der Karibik, ed. Sigrid Bauschinger and Susan L. Cocalis (Tübingen: Francke Verlag), 115–139. Puerto Rico fever: Douglas Sirk, La Habanera (1937), and the epistemology of exoticism Neue Welt / Dritte Welt’: Interkulturelle Beziehungen Deutschlands zu Lateinamerika und der Karibik 115 139 Google Scholar

Voisset, Georges (2003) ‘Présentation: La critique en archipel’, L’Imaginaire de l’archipel, ed. Georges Voisset (Paris: Karthala), 7–18. Présentation: La critique en archipel L’Imaginaire de l’archipel 7 18 Google Scholar

Wald, Priscilla (2008) Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative (Durham, NC: Duke University Press). Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative Google Scholar

Bach, Steven (2007) Leni: The Life and Work of Leni Riefenstahl (New York: Vintage). Leni: The Life and Work of Leni Riefenstahl Google Scholar

Balibar, Étienne (2011) ‘Toward a diasporic citizen? From internationalism to cosmopolitics’, in The Creolization of Theory, ed. Françoise Lionnet and Shu-mei Shih (Durham, NC: Duke University Press), 207–225. Toward a diasporic citizen? From internationalism to cosmopolitics The Creolization of Theory 207 225 Google Scholar

Bauman, Zygmunt (2000) Liquid Modernity (Cambridge: Polity). Liquid Modernity Google Scholar

Bauman, Zygmunt and David Lyon (2013) Liquid Surveillance: A Conversation (Cambridge: Polity). Liquid Surveillance: A Conversation Google Scholar

Díaz Quiñones, Arcadio (2000) El arte de bregar: ensayos (San Juan, Puerto Rico: Ediciones Callejón). El arte de bregar: ensayos Google Scholar

Edmond, Rod and Vanessa Smith (2003) ‘Editor’s introduction’, in Islands in History and Representation, ed. Rod Edmond and Vanessa Smith (London: Routledge), 1–18. Editor’s introduction Islands in History and Representation 1 18 Google Scholar

Fabian, Johannes (1983) Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes its Object (New York: Columbia University Press). Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes its Object Google Scholar

Gorostiza López, Jorge (ed.) (2004) Rodajes en Canarias (1896–1950) (Islas Canarias: Gobierno de Canarias). Rodajes en Canarias (1896–1950) Google Scholar

Halliday, Jon (1997) Sirk on Sirk: Conversations with Jon Halliday, rev. ed. (London: Faber and Faber). Sirk on Sirk: Conversations with Jon Halliday Google Scholar

Hernández Adrián, Francisco-J. (Winter 2006) ‘Atlantic Nessologies: image, territory, value’, ST&TCL (Studies in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature) 30(1), 20–43. Atlantic Nessologies: image, territory, value ST&TCL (Studies in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature) 30 20 43 Google Scholar

Hinton, David B. (2000) The Films of Leni Riefenstahl, 3rd ed. (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow). The Films of Leni Riefenstahl Google Scholar

Jotcham, Nicholas (1989) ‘Introduction’, Prosper Mérimée, Carmen and Other Stories (Oxford: Oxford University Press), vii–xxv. Introduction Carmen and Other Stories vii xxv Google Scholar

Klinger, Barbara (1994) Melodrama and Meaning: History, Culture, and the Films of Douglas Sirk (Bloomington: Indiana University Press). Melodrama and Meaning: History, Culture, and the Films of Douglas Sirk Google Scholar

Koonz, Claudia (2003) The Nazi Conscience (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press). The Nazi Conscience Google Scholar

Kuzniar, Alice A. (2000) The Queer German Cinema (Stanford: Stanford University Press). The Queer German Cinema Google Scholar

Lebeau, Vicky (2008) Childhood and Cinema (London: Reaktion Books). Childhood and Cinema Google Scholar

Mezzadra, Sandro and Brett Neilson (2013) Border as Method, or, the Multiplication of Labor (Durham, NC: Duke University Press). Border as Method, or, the Multiplication of Labor Google Scholar

Millares Cantero, Sergio (2012) ‘La coyuntura de la Guerra Civil en la represión política en Canarias: entre el castigo y la prevención’, in La Segunda República en Canarias, ed. Aarón León Álvarez (Santa Cruz de Tenerife: Le Canarien ediciones), 465–484. La coyuntura de la Guerra Civil en la represión política en Canarias: entre el castigo y la prevención La Segunda República en Canarias 465 484 Google Scholar

Mitchell, Nancy (1999) The Danger of Dreams: German and American Imperialism in Latin America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press). The Danger of Dreams: German and American Imperialism in Latin America Google Scholar

Naficy, Hamid (2003) ‘Phobic spaces and liminal panics: independent transnational film genre’, in Multiculturalism, Postcoloniality, and Transnational Media, ed. Ella Shohat and Robert Stam (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press), 203–226. Phobic spaces and liminal panics: independent transnational film genre Multiculturalism, Postcoloniality, and Transnational Media 203 226 Google Scholar

O’Brien, Mary-Elizabeth (2004) Nazi Cinema as Enchantment: The Politics of Entertainment in the Third Reich (Rochester, NY: Camden House). Nazi Cinema as Enchantment: The Politics of Entertainment in the Third Reich Google Scholar

Pike, David Wingeate (2008) Franco and the Axis Stigma (New York: Palgrave). Franco and the Axis Stigma Google Scholar

Rentschler, Eric (1996) The Ministry of Illusion: Nazi Cinema and Its Afterlife (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press). The Ministry of Illusion: Nazi Cinema and Its Afterlife Google Scholar

Rivas García, Ramiro (2000). ‘La Guerra Civil en Tenerife’, in La Guerra Civil en Canarias, ed. Miguel Ángel Cabrera Acosta (La Laguna: Francisco Lemus), 47–78. La Guerra Civil en Tenerife La Guerra Civil en Canarias 47 78 Google Scholar

Sheller, Mimi and John Urry (2006) ‘The new mobilities paradigm’, Environment and Planning A 38, 207–226. The new mobilities paradigm Environment and Planning A 38 207 226 Google Scholar

Stephens, Michelle (July 2013) ‘What is an island? Caribbean studies and the contemporary visual artist’, Small Axe 41, 8–26. What is an island? Caribbean studies and the contemporary visual artist Small Axe 41 8 26 Google Scholar

Trumpener, Katie (1994) ‘Puerto Rico fever: Douglas Sirk, La Habanera (1937), and the epistemology of exoticism’, in ‘Neue Welt / Dritte Welt’: Interkulturelle Beziehungen Deutschlands zu Lateinamerika und der Karibik, ed. Sigrid Bauschinger and Susan L. Cocalis (Tübingen: Francke Verlag), 115–139. Puerto Rico fever: Douglas Sirk, La Habanera (1937), and the epistemology of exoticism Neue Welt / Dritte Welt’: Interkulturelle Beziehungen Deutschlands zu Lateinamerika und der Karibik 115 139 Google Scholar

Voisset, Georges (2003) ‘Présentation: La critique en archipel’, L’Imaginaire de l’archipel, ed. Georges Voisset (Paris: Karthala), 7–18. Présentation: La critique en archipel L’Imaginaire de l’archipel 7 18 Google Scholar

Wald, Priscilla (2008) Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative (Durham, NC: Duke University Press). Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative Google Scholar

Bach, Steven (2007) Leni: The Life and Work of Leni Riefenstahl (New York: Vintage). Leni: The Life and Work of Leni Riefenstahl Google Scholar

Balibar, Étienne (2011) ‘Toward a diasporic citizen? From internationalism to cosmopolitics’, in The Creolization of Theory, ed. Françoise Lionnet and Shu-mei Shih (Durham, NC: Duke University Press), 207–225. Toward a diasporic citizen? From internationalism to cosmopolitics The Creolization of Theory 207 225 Google Scholar

Bauman, Zygmunt (2000) Liquid Modernity (Cambridge: Polity). Liquid Modernity Google Scholar

Bauman, Zygmunt and David Lyon (2013) Liquid Surveillance: A Conversation (Cambridge: Polity). Liquid Surveillance: A Conversation Google Scholar

Díaz Quiñones, Arcadio (2000) El arte de bregar: ensayos (San Juan, Puerto Rico: Ediciones Callejón). El arte de bregar: ensayos Google Scholar

Edmond, Rod and Vanessa Smith (2003) ‘Editor’s introduction’, in Islands in History and Representation, ed. Rod Edmond and Vanessa Smith (London: Routledge), 1–18. Editor’s introduction Islands in History and Representation 1 18 Google Scholar

Fabian, Johannes (1983) Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes its Object (New York: Columbia University Press). Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes its Object Google Scholar

Gorostiza López, Jorge (ed.) (2004) Rodajes en Canarias (1896–1950) (Islas Canarias: Gobierno de Canarias). Rodajes en Canarias (1896–1950) Google Scholar

Halliday, Jon (1997) Sirk on Sirk: Conversations with Jon Halliday, rev. ed. (London: Faber and Faber). Sirk on Sirk: Conversations with Jon Halliday Google Scholar

Hernández Adrián, Francisco-J. (Winter 2006) ‘Atlantic Nessologies: image, territory, value’, ST&TCL (Studies in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature) 30(1), 20–43. Atlantic Nessologies: image, territory, value ST&TCL (Studies in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature) 30 20 43 Google Scholar

Hinton, David B. (2000) The Films of Leni Riefenstahl, 3rd ed. (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow). The Films of Leni Riefenstahl Google Scholar

Jotcham, Nicholas (1989) ‘Introduction’, Prosper Mérimée, Carmen and Other Stories (Oxford: Oxford University Press), vii–xxv. Introduction Carmen and Other Stories vii xxv Google Scholar

Klinger, Barbara (1994) Melodrama and Meaning: History, Culture, and the Films of Douglas Sirk (Bloomington: Indiana University Press). Melodrama and Meaning: History, Culture, and the Films of Douglas Sirk Google Scholar

Koonz, Claudia (2003) The Nazi Conscience (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press). The Nazi Conscience Google Scholar

Kuzniar, Alice A. (2000) The Queer German Cinema (Stanford: Stanford University Press). The Queer German Cinema Google Scholar

Lebeau, Vicky (2008) Childhood and Cinema (London: Reaktion Books). Childhood and Cinema Google Scholar

Mezzadra, Sandro and Brett Neilson (2013) Border as Method, or, the Multiplication of Labor (Durham, NC: Duke University Press). Border as Method, or, the Multiplication of Labor Google Scholar

Millares Cantero, Sergio (2012) ‘La coyuntura de la Guerra Civil en la represión política en Canarias: entre el castigo y la prevención’, in La Segunda República en Canarias, ed. Aarón León Álvarez (Santa Cruz de Tenerife: Le Canarien ediciones), 465–484. La coyuntura de la Guerra Civil en la represión política en Canarias: entre el castigo y la prevención La Segunda República en Canarias 465 484 Google Scholar

Mitchell, Nancy (1999) The Danger of Dreams: German and American Imperialism in Latin America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press). The Danger of Dreams: German and American Imperialism in Latin America Google Scholar

Naficy, Hamid (2003) ‘Phobic spaces and liminal panics: independent transnational film genre’, in Multiculturalism, Postcoloniality, and Transnational Media, ed. Ella Shohat and Robert Stam (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press), 203–226. Phobic spaces and liminal panics: independent transnational film genre Multiculturalism, Postcoloniality, and Transnational Media 203 226 Google Scholar

O’Brien, Mary-Elizabeth (2004) Nazi Cinema as Enchantment: The Politics of Entertainment in the Third Reich (Rochester, NY: Camden House). Nazi Cinema as Enchantment: The Politics of Entertainment in the Third Reich Google Scholar

Pike, David Wingeate (2008) Franco and the Axis Stigma (New York: Palgrave). Franco and the Axis Stigma Google Scholar

Rentschler, Eric (1996) The Ministry of Illusion: Nazi Cinema and Its Afterlife (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press). The Ministry of Illusion: Nazi Cinema and Its Afterlife Google Scholar

Rivas García, Ramiro (2000). ‘La Guerra Civil en Tenerife’, in La Guerra Civil en Canarias, ed. Miguel Ángel Cabrera Acosta (La Laguna: Francisco Lemus), 47–78. La Guerra Civil en Tenerife La Guerra Civil en Canarias 47 78 Google Scholar

Sheller, Mimi and John Urry (2006) ‘The new mobilities paradigm’, Environment and Planning A 38, 207–226. The new mobilities paradigm Environment and Planning A 38 207 226 Google Scholar

Stephens, Michelle (July 2013) ‘What is an island? Caribbean studies and the contemporary visual artist’, Small Axe 41, 8–26. What is an island? Caribbean studies and the contemporary visual artist Small Axe 41 8 26 Google Scholar

Trumpener, Katie (1994) ‘Puerto Rico fever: Douglas Sirk, La Habanera (1937), and the epistemology of exoticism’, in ‘Neue Welt / Dritte Welt’: Interkulturelle Beziehungen Deutschlands zu Lateinamerika und der Karibik, ed. Sigrid Bauschinger and Susan L. Cocalis (Tübingen: Francke Verlag), 115–139. Puerto Rico fever: Douglas Sirk, La Habanera (1937), and the epistemology of exoticism Neue Welt / Dritte Welt’: Interkulturelle Beziehungen Deutschlands zu Lateinamerika und der Karibik 115 139 Google Scholar

Voisset, Georges (2003) ‘Présentation: La critique en archipel’, L’Imaginaire de l’archipel, ed. Georges Voisset (Paris: Karthala), 7–18. Présentation: La critique en archipel L’Imaginaire de l’archipel 7 18 Google Scholar

Wald, Priscilla (2008) Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative (Durham, NC: Duke University Press). Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative Google Scholar

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Adrián, Francisco-J. Hernández