Becoming Matter/Becoming Mother: Wilding in Ali Abbasi’s Border (Gräns)


  • Monique Tschofen Toronto Metropolitan University



This paper provides an analysis of Ali Abbasi’s film Border through a feminist new materialist approach that centers what I call “wilding”—a process of worlding that challenges binary and rigid structures of thought that dichotomize existence into fixed categories through the cultivation of bewilderment, a state of openness to not-knowing which requires the unlearning of anthropocentric epistemologies. Paying attention to the etymological roots of the word “matter” (as body, wood, mother/nourishment, and place), the paper shows how the film displaces the dominion of sight with an emphasis on symbiosis that foregrounds the sense of touch

Author Biography

Monique Tschofen, Toronto Metropolitan University

Monique Tschofen is Associate Professor of English at Toronto Metropolitan University, a scholar of new media, visual culture, research creation, and a digital storyteller, working with poetry, sound art, experimental film, and AI generation. Her publications include textbooks on film and literature, literature and multimedia, and literary hypertext, as well as edited collections of essays on Canadian writers and filmmaker Atom Egoyan. Her current research theorizes the relationship between art and philosophy, asking about the conditions under which an artwork can be an “act of theory” through studies of Gertrude Stein, digital installation art, experimental cinema, and ekphrastic poetry.


Border (Gräns). Dir. Ali Abbasi, performances by Eva Melander, Eero Milonoff, Jörgen Thorsson, screenplay by John Ajvide Lindqvist, Ali Abbasi, Isabella Eklöf, cinematography by Nadim Carlsen. Sweden, Meta Film Stockholm, Black Spark Film & TV, Kärnfilm, Film i Väst, Sveriges Television (SVT), 2018.

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How to Cite

Tschofen, M. (2023). Becoming Matter/Becoming Mother: Wilding in Ali Abbasi’s Border (Gräns). Imaginations: Journal of Cross-Cultural Image Studies, 14(2), 149–174.