Blurring the Colonial Binary assesses the development of cinema in colonial Southeast Asia, and how it disrupted notions of racial hierarchies. The book charts the development of cinema, and its distribution and exhibition, from a transnational and colonial perspective. The first decade of cinema in Southeast Asia, particularly Singapore, is used as a point of reference from where issues such as imperialism, colonial discourse, nation-building, ethnicity, gender, and race is examined.
I demonstrate the interconnectedness of Southeast Asia, and its constructed national borders, by examining tha transnational itinerant amusement companies that performed in the region. These entertainment companies, in turn, were dependent on imperial networks, in terms of trade and communication systems, which facilitated their movement between territories. Cinematic venues negotiated segregated, colonial racial politics by creating a common social space where people from different ethnic and social backgrounds gathered.