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Postcolonial Hangups in Southeast Asian Cinema

Poetics of Space, Sound, and Stability

Gerald Sim

254 pages
Amsterdam University Press
Postcolonial Hangups in Southeast Asian Cinema: Poetics of Space, Sound, and Stability rethinks theory and style through films that bring the limits of traditional postcolonial frameworks into stark relief. Discover Singapore’s preoccupations with space, Yasmin Ahmad’s Malaysian soundscapes, and Indonesia’s investment in genre. These undertheorized films from geopolitically situated cultures narrate colonial identity within a distinctively Southeast Asian story. Gerald Sim’s immersive journey nurtures connections between narrative film, commercial video, art cinema, and experimental work with an abiding commitment to self-reflexive theorizing. The book culminates in a reflection on the ethics and politics of conducting knowledge work on world cinema. Sim navigates Singapore’s love of maps with the work of Tom Conley and Gilles Deleuze, surveys the city-state’s cartographic uncanny, before using the spatial inquisitions in filmmaker Tan Pin Pin’s “cinema of hiraeth” to appreciate Singapore’s territorial predispositions. The book then revisits a beloved Malaysian director's voice of modernity alongside Jean-Luc Nancy’s phenomenologies of listening and globalization. Original readings of Ahmad’s oeuvre dwell on the interplay between her ethnic cacophonies and imperfect subtitling. Finally, Sim focuses on the postcoloniality of Indonesia’s Cold War alliance with the United States to contemplate the overhang of authoritarian stability within its contemporary cinema’s generic recourse.
Author Bio
Gerald Sim is an Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies at Florida Atlantic University, the author of The Subject of Film and Race: Retheorizing Politics, Ideology, and Cinema (2014), and Lee Kong Chian NUS-Stanford Fellow on Contemporary Southeast Asia in 2016-2017.