Nadine Chan

Assistant Professor
Innis College, IN-321E, 2 Sussex Avenue, Toronto, ON M5S 1J5


Nadine Chan’s areas of research and teaching include media historiography and theory, postcolonial and new empire studies, environmental humanities, visual studies, and Southeast Asian film and media. Chan’s manuscript-in-progress, A Cinema Under the Palms: Colonial Worldmaking in an Unruly Medium, offers a conceptual and historiographical framework for cinema as a colonial worldmaker through the media cultures of tropical British Malaya. Located at the intersection of postcolonial and environmental media studies, her work interrogates colonial cinema’s counter-colonial possibilities through a study of educational, industrial, and propaganda films produced by the British colonial state in the region. Her second project focuses on complexity and futurity in Southeast Asian environmental, logistical, and finance media.

Chan has published in The Journal of Environmental Humanities, Cinema Journal, Studies in Documentary Film, Periscope for Social Text, Spectator, and the anthologies Screening Race in American Nontheatrical Film (Duke UP) and Theorizing Colonial Cinemas (Indiana UP). Her work has been supported by a Social Science Research Council IDRF fellowship, a Harper-Schmidt postdoctoral fellowship at UChicago, a Global Asia fellowship at Nanayang Technological University Singapore, and other research and teaching awards and grants. Her dissertation received a Society of Cinema and Media Studies award of distinction.

Selected Work

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

“A Time-Lagged Medium: Colonial Documentary in British Malaya and the Asynchronous Reproducibility of Reality,” Theorizing Colonial Cinema, Nayoung Aimee Kwon, Baek Moon Im, Takushi Odagiri (eds.), Indiana University Pres, 2022.

“Pandemic Temporalities: Distal Futurity and the Digital Capitalocene,” Journal of Environmental Media, 1.2, August 2020.

“Aestheticizing Asian American Assimilation in the Learning Corporation of America’s Many Americans Series (1970-1982)” in Screening Race in American Nontheatrical Film, Marsha Gordon and Allyson Field (eds.), Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2019.

“Global Asia: A Critical Aesthetics Always in Search of Alternative Globalities,” with Cheryl Naruse, Periscope feature on “Global Asia: Critical Aesthetics, Alternative Globalities,” for Social Text, May 2018.

“Making Ahmad ‘Problem Conscious’: Educational Cinema and the Rural Lecture Caravan in 1930s British Malaya,” Cinema Journal 55.4, July 2016.

“‘Remember the Empire, Filled with Your Cousins’: Poetic Exposition in the Documentaries of the Empire Marketing Board,” Studies in Documentary Film 7.2, June 2013: 105-118.

Slumdog Millionaire and the Troubled Place of Cinema and Nation,” Spectator, vol. 30.2, Fall 2010: 37-45.

Editorial Work

“Global Asia: Critical Aesthetics, Alternative Globalities,” Nadine Chan and Cheryl Naruse (eds.), Periscope feature for Social Text, May 2018.

Other Writing

“Colonial Educational Cinema,” Oxford Bibliographies, 2019.


PhD, University of Southern California
MA, National University of Singapore
BA, National University of Singapore