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Chan’s first book-in-progress, Cinema Under the Palms: Colonial Education in an Unruly Medium, conceptualizes film as an object that is animated by both colonial and counter-colonial energies. Through a study of colonial educational films in British Malaya and Singapore from the 1910s to the present, it offers a theoretical and historiographical framework for colonial cinemas and their postcolonial afterlives. While the book argues for a new genealogy of cinema that locates its technologies, theories, and aesthetics as an extension of the logics and material practices of late colonialism, it also contends that with cinema’s slippages, opacities, and irrationalities, the medium lends itself to riotous counter-colonial possibilities.
Growing from her writing on tropicality and colonialism’s “extractive cinema” in her first book project, Chan’s second research project focuses on visualizations of the Anthropocene particularly through questions of archive, information, and affect. Set in an era of rapid species loss, resource extraction, and environmental degradation in the rainforests of Southeast Asia, it asks how our experience of seeing and documenting the world through multi-modal visual forms (e.g. scientific taxonomy, cinema, meteorological data visualizations, indigenous social media) produces our sense of planet and planetary time.
Chan has articles published in Cinema Journal, Studies in Documentary Film, Periscope for Social Text, Spectator, and the anthology Screening Race in American Nontheatrical Film. Her dissertation, “A Cinema Under the Palms: The Unruly Lives of Colonial Educational Film in British Malaya,” received an Award of Distinction for the 2017 Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) Dissertation Prize and was a final shortlist for the 2017 International Convention for Asian Scholars (ICAS) Dissertation Prize. Her research has been supported by a Social Science Research Council Andrew W. Mellon International Dissertation Research Fellowship, a Global Asia Postdoctoral Fellowship (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore), and other fellowships and grants.
A Cinema Under the Palms: Colonial Education in an Unruly Medium. Monograph in-progress.
“Aestheticizing Asian American Assimilation in the Learning Corporation of America’s Many Americans Series (1970-1982).” In Screening Race in American Nontheatrical Film, edited by Marsha Gordon and Allyson Field. Durham: Duke University Press, forthcoming 2019.
“Global Asia: A Critical Aesthetics Always in Search of Alternative Globalities,” Periscope feature on “Global Asia: Critical Aesthetics, Alternative Globalities,” for Social Text (2018).
“Making Ahmad ‘Problem Conscious’: Educational Cinema and the Rural Lecture Caravan in 1930s British Malaya.” Cinema Journal 55, no. 4 (2016).
“‘Remember the Empire, Filled with Your Cousins’: Poetic Exposition in the Documentaries of the Empire Marketing Board,” Studies in Documentary Film 7, no. 2 (2013): 105-18.
Introduction to Film and Media Theory
Durable Empires and Medias of Mass Culture: Theory and History
Durable Empires and Medias of Mass Culture: Praxis Advanced Writing Workshop