Background

Nadi Tofighian is a lecturer at the Section for Cinema Studies. He has previously been a lecturer at Linnaeus University and at De La Salle University Manila, and did a postdoc at the Film and Media Studies Program at Yale University in 2015-2016. He completed his doctoral dissertation, Blurring the Colonial Binaries: Turn-of-the-Century Transnational Entertainment in Southeast Asia, at the department in 2013, and has published on early cinema, colonial history, film distribution, and Southeast Asia.

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Research Interests

My research interests include colonial history, early cinema, documentary and ethnographic film, postcolonial theory, and Southeast Asia.

My current project ‘Let the American Show You’: Cinema in U.S. Colonial Territories, 1898-1919 examines how U.S. government institutions and private film companies employed cinema as a colonial tool during the first decades of annexing its five occupied territories: the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Guam, and Hawaii. The project is positioned at the intersection of colonial history, imperial politics, and early cinema. Examining the U.S. practices of the exhibition, production, and distribution of films in the five territories, with a special focus on the Philippines, the project engages with the issues of American exceptionalism, racial hierarchies, and colonial discourses prevalent at the time.

The project consists of three principal parts. Looking at a wide selection of archival materials, the first part tracks early film exhibitions to argue that U.S. and European moving images attempted to cement the worldview of the coloniser and reproduced racial hierarchies. The second part examines the films produced in colonial territories by filmmakers from the United States and other colonial powers, and claims that these films created ideologically and racially charged images of the colonies and their people while negotiating colonial relationships. The third part assesses the distribution strategies of U.S. film companies by following specific films, and how these strategies contributed to the spread of American culture in the colonies.

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