Film and Moving Image Studies does not constitute a unified disciplinary field at the epistemological level. In the Euro-American sphere, these studies have been historically divided between the social sciences, human sciences, and humanities, Film and Moving Image Studies generate a wide range of knowledge in relation to often very different epistemic aims. However, the rise of academic discourses and their institutionalization had led to various questions concerning the reproduction and legitimation of knowledge in Film and Moving Image Studies. For instance, how are to distinguish between academic discourse and discourses that fall under the heading of “nonacademic criticism” (including serious forms of criticism)? Are hermeneutic practices different in these two types of discourse? Are their epistemic aims distinct? Do we have to distinguish between the different types of knowledge that are thus produced? The rapid growth of what was called "Theory" beginning in the 1970s, followed by historiography in the 80s, appears to offer ways of distinguishing and legitimizing different epistemic practices both within academic Film and Moving Image Studies and when they are confronted with other discourses on film, such as cinephilia. However, Film and Moving Image Studies have not yet extensively investigated their epistemological foundations — their the tools, their concepts, their modes of knowing and their forms of rationality.
Sociologists and education science specialists (i.e., Bourdieu or T. Becher) have shown that academic disciplines are spaces in which identities, “academic tribes” are formed, to use Becher's expression. Their work also illustrates how practicing an academic discipline is linked to and even creates ways of seeing and conceiving the world. These identities assume many different forms. For example, national traditions of Film and Moving Image Studies in France, the United States and Japan are very different. These differences affect both the institutional places where Film and Moving Image Studies are practiced and disseminated, as well as research topics and the way they are conceived. These questions are distinct from the historical and epistemological problems addressed in axes 1 and 2, but they are certainly not entirely foreign to them either: they provide another angle on a disciplinary field, one that is oriented toward other preoccupations closer to that of sociology and anthropology – or “cultural studies”. Indeed, the history of institutions as well as epistemological considerations regarding approaches and background beliefs emerge from issues that are raised by questions of disciplinary identity and cultural traditions within Film and Moving Image Studies.
This axis seeks to identify the conditions of emergence and consolidation of Film and Moving Image Studies in academia. It revolves around 3 main issues: the study of conceptual conditions, material and technological conditions, and institutional conditions.
Institutions of Cinephilia
Institutions of social and community activism