Blog

The Sounds of Politics in South Asia (with Aswin Punathambekar and Sriram Mohan)

In this week’s episode, guests Aswin Punathambekar and Sriram Mohan discuss their article “A Sound Bridge: Listening for the Political in a Digital Age” which analyzes how catchy sounds become sonic cues for political participation. In their analysis of the popular refrain “Why This Kolaveri” (“Why This Murderous Rage”), the authors demonstrate how a sound’s availability, performativity, and resonance enable it to be picked up by a variety of journalists, politicians, and citizens engaged in popular protest movements. Punathambekar and Mohan argue that understanding politics in the digital age requires attending more closely to sonic modes of participation.

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Zombies in Cuba (with Bianka Ballina)

In this week’s episode, guest Bianka Ballina discusses her article Juan of the Dead: Anxious Consumption and Zombie Cinema in Cuba,” which analyzes the complex material and ideological transformations in Cuban film over the past two decades. Ballina argues that Alejandro Brugués’s film Juan de los muertos offers an opportunity to explore the circulation of anxieties around global consumption within the island. While the film contributes to the continued reformulation of Cuban and genre cinemas, it also reproduces conservative ideologies about race, gender, and sexuality in Cuba.

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How to Translate a Genre (with Michelle Cho)

In this week’s episode, guest Michelle Cho discusses her article “Genre, Translation, and Transnational Cinema” which analyzes Kim Jee-woon’s Korean western film The Good, the Bad, the Weird as emblematic of both the transnational adaptation of popular genres and the international rise of South Korean cinema in the early 21st century. Cho proposes a theory of genre translation that does not require audiences to know all textual references in a film and that accounts for the embodied pleasures and therapeutic sensations of globally popular genres, such as westerns.

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Indigenous Cinema in North America (with Karrmen Crey)

In this week’s episode, guest Karrmen Crey discusses her article “Screen Text and Institutional Context: Indigenous Film Production and Academic Research Institutions” which analyzes post-secondary institutions and the intellectual traditions that shape how Indigenous filmmakers engage the politics and ethics of representation. By comparing two documentaries by Indigenous women, Navajo Talking Picture (Arlene Bowman 1986) and Cry Rock (Banchi Hanuse 2010), Crey argues that we must consider how Indigenous artists contend with sources of funding and formal tropes enmeshed in Western traditions when attempting to tell Indigenous stories in visual media.

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The Weather after Fukushima (with Laura Beltz Imaoka)

In this week’s episode, guest Laura Beltz Imaoka discusses her chapter “Rain with a Chance of Radiation: Forecasting Local and Global Risk after Fukushima,” which traces the news coverage of the fallout of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Imaoka analyzes how the distinct organizations of the Japanese and U.S. news industries contributed to vastly different public perceptions of local risk and global atmospheric interconnections. She also notes an early moment when, in the absence of reliable data from official institutions, civilians turned to social media to obtain their information, often with disastrous effects.

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Digital Cartography and the Promise of Interactivity (with Jason Farman)

In this week’s episode, guest Jason Farman discusses his article “Mapping the Digital Empire: Google Earth and the Process of Postmodern Cartography” which analyzes how the political and social implications of cartography take on new significance in the digital age, with the proliferation of interactive maps and geographic information systems (GIS). Farman argues that, by incorporating a social network that engages users as embodied interactors rather than disembodied voyeurs, Google Earth is able to present user-generated content spatially within the very object that such content critiques.

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