Theses Doctoral

The Cinema of Social Dreamers: Artists and Their Imaginations Return to the Caribbean

Espert, Yasmine

Happiness, ritual, and sovereignty are artists’ persistent aspirations in the African- and Afro-Asian diasporas. “The Cinema of Social Dreamers” explores why the dreamscape is increasingly becoming the creative form for the expression of these social ambitions. This dissertation particularly spotlights the award-winning films and new media projects that exploit the dreamscape aesthetic in contemporary Caribbean and diasporic art. My analysis focuses on this tropical region, as well as its transnational impact in Canada, Mexico, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Central to this manuscript are the artists Mariette Monpierre, Michelle Mohabeer, and Minia Biabiany. I specifically engage their questions of happiness, spirituality, sexuality, and sovereignty in the wake of colonialism. The range of the narrative media these artists employ—from installation art and new media to sensational melodramas—also evidences the richness of the contemporary moment. While their award-winning works have flourished in niche film festivals and at fine art institutions, “The Cinema of Social Dreamers” is the first to present them as the subject of deep comparative analysis. By placing the Caribbean archipelago at the center of my work, I also highlight that the economy of art-making (and art history) remains a complex interdisciplinary, multilingual, and transnational project.

Geographic Areas


This item is currently under embargo. It will be available starting 2026-10-17.

More About This Work

Academic Units
Art History and Archaeology
Thesis Advisors
Jones, Kellie
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
January 16, 2020