The space of a screen image has traditionally dominated conversations about cinematic space, because it is the most visually spectacular of its spaces. Dislodging the centrality, though not the significance, of cinema’s visual space, I follow commercial, art and nontheatrical films shot on location in India by British, Euro-American and Indian directors, to write a “spatial” film historiography in my book Where Histories Reside. The verticality of periodized and geographically defined research is the traditional remit of film history, but in writing this book I found that the scope of a spatial critique in film could be fully realized only if I considered cinema’s complex artifactual status as a representational, affective, cultural, commodity, and techno-material form, each with its own particular social and spatial dimension. Indeed, as I argue, following the sociospatial registers of cinema in their granularity across a range of periods and regimes of power suggests new protocols for historical thinking about film. This talk will draw on one example from my book to convey the viewing, reading and research practices as well as the political investments of spatial film historiographies.
This talk is part of the Distinguished Lecturer Series.
Priya Jaikumar is Professor of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Southern California and author of Where Histories Reside: India as Filmed Space, and Cinema at the End of Empire: A Politics of Transition in Britain and India, both published by Duke University Press.