Skip to main content
Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Colonial Cinema in the Open Air: Ambient Governmentality and “Atmosphere of Mind” by Nadine Chan

Mon. April 8 @ 2:30 pm - 4:00 pm

Please join the Carolina Asia Center for a talk by Dr. Nadine Chan of the University of Toronto.


In the 1930s, the Rural Lecture Caravan—a mobile cinema operated by the Malayan government—travelled widely across the Malay peninsula screening educational films on financial and agricultural improvement. Uncontained by physical walls, their outdoor film shows emitted a vibrant energy that not only mesmerized its immediate viewers but fundamentally infused its surrounds—a typical Malay village in the 1920s—with the stirring atmosphere of colonial modernity. What was it about open-air cine-projection that lent itself so readily to colonial education and ideological formation? What was the connection between screen and mind, and how was this connection rooted in a so-called “environ-mental” understanding of cinema? This chapter examines how colonial filmmakers fundamentally understood cinema as an ambient medium that opens up relationalities between milieu, mental feeling, and political society. Early mobile cinemas helped to shape how colonial governments would think about “media infrastructure” as more than just technological systems but as affective environments that could energetically shift space, modulate sites, and engineer the psyche.

Bio: Nadine Chan is Assistant Professor at the Cinema Studies Institute, University of Toronto. Her research investigates environmental media and infrastructures of power in colonial and postcolonial Southeast Asia. She has published in Cinema Journal, Journal of Environmental MediaPeriscope for Social TextStudies in Documentary Film, the Asian American Writers’ Workshop and the anthologies Theorizing Colonial Cinema and Screening Race in Nontheatrical Film. Her book manuscript-in-progress is titled A Cinema Under the Palms: Colonial Environing in an Unruly Medium. Chan’s second research project investigates humid media and ambient governmentality in Southeast Asia.


Mon. April 8
2:30 pm - 4:00 pm


FedEx Global Education Center, Room 4003
Chapel Hill, NC United States + Google Map


Carolina Asia Center
View Organizer Website

The Carolina Asia Center supports diverse Asia-related events. However, CAC co-sponsorship of any talk, seminar, documentary screening, film screening, performance or celebration does not constitute endorsement of or agreement with the views presented therein. As an academic institution, we value diverse perspectives that promote dialogue and understanding.

Comments are closed.