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Samhita Sunya - Film History; Middle East - South Asia Focus

Middle Eastern & South Asian Languages & Cultures
Supervising Faculty Member: 
Samhita Sunya
Research Focus: 

I have been working on a manuscript that is nearing completion, titled SIRENS OF MODERNITY: WORLD CINEMA VIA BOMBAY, which historicizes the emergence of “world cinema” as a category in the politics of the Cold War, and the manner in which Hindi film/songs negotiated this category. My research so far has been based on archival fieldwork (e.g., at the American University of Beirut and the National Film Archive of India) alongside close textual and formal analyses of specific films and song sequences. Next year, I will be embarking upon a subsequent project that builds on this earlier work, titled SOUTH BY SOUTH / WEST ASIA: TRANSREGIONAL CARTOGRAPHIES OF CINEMATIC ACTION GENRES. I look forward to mentoring a student who would be excited to hunt for primary and secondary materials (films, scholarly writings, and journalistic sources) that are related to this project.

Position Description: 

I am interested in working with a student on 1) developing annotated bibliographic guides to our Middle East - South Asia film and film-related print material collections, especially those that pertain to the circulation history of action genres across this contiguous geography, and 2) sourcing Middle East - South films in which I am interested - that is, films in popular action genres (espionage films, stunt films, B films) that take place across South / West Asia. As some of these sources, both print and audiovisual, may be untranslated/unsubtitled from Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Hindi, or Turkish, I hope to collaborate with a student who is proficient in a language other than one in which I am able to work. Both the bibliographic guides and the films may, in turn, be added to our library references and collections, respectively, to the benefit of others as well.

Required Skills: 

I would like to mentor a student who is highly proficient in reading, writing, and speaking in either Arabic (modern standard plus any spoken dialect), Persian (Iranian or Afghan), Turkish, or Urdu.

What will you learn: 

1) To learn ways of tracking down sources - films as well as print material - that are not readily accessible (e.g., not distributed/printed in the US, unsubtitled, or unavailable in major archives and library holdings) 2) To learn ways of piecing together histories - in this case, histories of film circulation - whose record is spread across sources in different languages and locations 3) To learn the art of compiling an annotated bibliography - that is, succinctly recounting and summarizing the major significance, whether historical, theoretical, formal, or methodological, of both primary and secondary sources.

Film History; Middle East - South Asia Focus