Theorizing Colonial Cinemas


Workshop organizer:

Nayoung Aimee Kwon (Duke University)

Bio: Nayoung Aimee Kwon is an associate professor at Duke University in Asian & Middle Eastern Studies; Arts of the Moving Image; and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminists Studies. She is the author of Intimate Empire: Colonial Modernity and Collaboration in Korea and Japan (Duke University Press) and editor (with Takashi Fujitani) of Transcolonial Film Coproductions in the Japanese Empire. She co-directs Duke Engage South Korea, a service learning program for migrant and refugee children, and co-convenes the Humanities Writ Large Working group, Games, Conflicts, and Cultures.

Featured speakers:

Jane Gaines (Columbia University)

Bio: Jane M. Gaines is Professor Emerita of Literature and English, Duke University and currently Professor of Film, Columbia University. Author of two award-winning books, Contested Culture: The Image, the Voice, and the Law (North Carolina, 1991) and Fire and Desire: Mixed Race Movies in the Silent Era (Chicago, 2001). A founder of the Visible Evidence conference on documentary, she continues to publish on documentary activism, intellectual property in the internet age, the history of piracy, and most recently has critiqued the “historical turn” in film and media studies as “What Happened to the Philosophy of Film History?” and “Eisenstein’s Absolutely Wonderful, Totally Impossible Project,” in Sergei M. Eisenstein: Notes for a General History of Cinema. Forthcoming is Pink-Slipped: What Happened to Women in the Early Film Industries? The online resource, Women Film Pioneers Project, published by the Columbia University Libraries, launched as a pilot project in the future of publishing in 2013.

Zhang Zhen (NYU/NYU Shanghai)

Bio: Zhen Zhang’s main scholarly interests include Chinese-language film history in its cultural, aesthetic, political and gendered manifestations, within the broad frameworks of modernity, modernism and cosmopolitanism. She has also been following and working on and with emerging independent film communities in China, especially in the advent of digital media. She is deeply interested in both historical and contemporary trans-Asian exchanges in film and media culture and is the founding director of the Asian Film and Media Initiative. In addition to Chinese film history and Asian film history, Zhang offers courses related to transnational melodrama, martial arts film, documentary, and childhood studies. In addition to programing the biannual Reel China Documentary Festival and other events at NYU, she has co-organized and guest-curated film programs for the Film Society at Lincoln Center of Performing Arts, Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Women Make Waves Film Festival in Taipei.


Moonim Baek (Yonsei University)

Bio: Moonim Baek is a Professor of Korean Language and Literature at Yonsei University. She is the author of Zoom-Out: Politics of Korean Cinema (2001), Crippled Daughters of Chunhyang (2001), Figural Images (2004), Scream under the Moon: Korean Horror Film History through Female Ghosts (2008), and Im Hwa(林和)’s Cinema (2015).

Michael Baskett (University of Kansas)

Bio: Michael Baskett is chair of the Department of Film and Media Studies at the University of Kansas. He is the author of Attractive Empire: Transnational Film Culture in Imperial Japan (University of Hawaii Press, 2008) and several articles on Japan’s film industry in transition from colonialism to occupation and the Cold War. He teaches courses in film/media history, transnationalism film cultures, and is currently completing a book manuscript on Japanese Film Culture in Asia during the Cold War.

Nadine Chan (University of Chicago)

Bio: Nadine Chan is a Harper-Schmidt Fellow in the Society of Fellows at the University of Chicago and a former Global Asia Postdoctoral Fellow at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She received her PhD in Cinema and Media studies with a certificate in Visual Studies from the University of Southern California. Chan’s current research is located at the intersection of media historiography, media anthropology, and postcolonial studies. Her manuscript-in-progress, titled Unruly Medium: Cinema and Colonial Education in British Malaya, is a cultural history of nontheatrical educational films in colonial British Malaysia and Singapore from the 1920s to the present. Chan has articles published in Cinema Journal, Studies in Documentary Film, and Spectator.

Aaron Gerow (Yale University)

Bio:Aaron Gerow is Professor of East Asian cinema at Yale University and has published widely on variety of topics in especially Japanese film and popular culture. His books include Visions of Japanese Modernity: Articulations of Cinema, Nation, and Spectatorship, 1895-1925 (2010); A Page of Madness: Cinema and Modernity in 1920s Japan (2008); and Kitano Takeshi (2007).

Hieyoon Kim (UCLA)

Bio: Hieyoon Kim teaches East Asian history and culture at UCLA. She is currently working on a book manuscript titled Celluloid Democracy: Cinema and Its Archives in Cold War South Korea, which examines the transnational circuits of knowledge, discourse, and capital in the formation of cinema as a modality of democracy.

Takushi Odagiri (Duke University)

Bio: Takushi Odagiri has an MD from the University of Tokyo and a PhD from Stanford University. He has articles on Japanese philosophy, Japanese literature and Japanese film.

Stephen Poland (Harvard University)

Bio: Currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Reischauer Institute for Japanese Studies, Stephen Poland received his Ph.D. in Modern Japanese Literature from Yale University in 2016. He works on literature and cinema in 20th century East Asia, focusing on how shifting problems of empire and nation, community and subjectivity are worked through by these two important cultural industries of capitalist modernity. His doctoral dissertation, “Manchukuo as Method: Problematizing Nationality in Literature, 1906-1945,” examines literature produced by Japanese, Chinese, and Korean writers in Northeast China during the period of Japanese imperial expansion, culminating in the establishment of the “puppet-state” Manchukuo (1932-1945). Stephen is also beginning work on a second project, which explores representations of Manchukuo in postwar Korean, Japanese, and Chinese media.

Yiman Wang (UC Santa Cruz)

Bio: Yiman Wang obtained her PhD degree in Literature from Duke University. She is Associate Professor of Film & Digital Media at University of California, Santa Cruz. She is the author of Remaking Chinese Cinema: Through the Prism of Shanghai, Hong Kong and Hollywood (Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press, 2013). She is currently working on two book projects: one on Anna May Wong; and the other on animality in cinema. Her articles and book chapters have appeared in multiple journals and edited volumes.

Session Chairs:

Calvin Hui (University of William & Mary)

Prasenjit Duara (Duke University)

Leo Ching (Duke University)

Guo-Juin Hong (Duke University)

Beth Holmgren (Duke University)

Panel Discussants:

Debashree Mukherjee (University of Chicago)

Bio: Debashree Mukherjee is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies at Columbia University. Her research and teaching centers on the history of modern South Asian visual cultures and industries, with a focus on late colonial Bombay cinema. Her current book project, “Bombay Cinema and the Practice of Modernity,” presents a cultural history of early Bombay cinema (1920s-1940s) that privileges material practice, circuits of work, and technologies of production. Debashree has published in several anthologies and journals and is currently an Editor with the peer-reviewed journal BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies.

Gregory Flaxman (UNC – Chapel Hill)

Amadou Fofana (Willamette University)

Bio: Dr. Amadou T. Fofana graduated from the Department of African Languages and Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He received a Licence and a Maîtrise in English from Cheikh Anta Diop University, and an MA in French Literature and Civilization from Michigan State University. His research and teaching interests include French and Francophone literatures, African literature and films, and international migration. Dr. Fofana is currently an Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies at Willamette University.