SOAS University of London

Centre of South East Asian Studies

Reframing the Archive: The Reuse of Film and Photographic Images in Postcolonial Southeast Asia


Date: 22 June 2017Time: 6:00 PM

Finishes: 23 June 2017Time: 8:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Khaiili Lecture Theatre and B102

Type of Event: Symposium


In recent years, the decision to engage with colonial and postcolonial archives has become increasingly commonplace within Southeast Asian film, photography and visual culture. Whilst this renewed interest in archival materials has resulted in an increased awareness of the complexities of lens-based media, it has also allowed practitioners to challenge both the dominant narratives of colonialism and their neo- and postcolonial legacies. In the case of Cambodia and its diasporas, this archival impulse – and its accompanying modes of (re-) appropriation – is exemplified by films such as Rithy Panh’s La France est notre patrie [‘France is our Homeland’] and Davy Chou’s Golden Slumbers. Whereas the former offers an insight into the hypocrisies of French colonial rule, the latter takes its lead from the development of twentieth century Cambodian cinema. Yet despite differing in their aims and emphases, these projects share a number of common characteristics – namely, a desire to foreground the importance of preserving and revisiting archival materials: two imperatives which have acquired a particular significance in the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge regime.

Taking its lead from these recent developments, this symposium will explore the ways in which colonial and postcolonial film and photographic archives have been rearticulated within a range of Southeast Asian political and aesthetic contexts. How have artists and filmmakers sought to subvert existing power relations through the use of colonial images? To what extent have archival materials and technologies allowed for an investigation into the emancipatory potential of the lens? How have these techniques been utilised by diasporic populations?

The symposium will be accompanied by two public screenings of films by Southeast Asian filmmakers. Entrance to the film screenings are included in the conference ticket price .It is also possible to purchase a ticket for both films without entry to the conference. A limited number of free film tickets are available for SOAS students, although registration and ID is required.  

Thursday 22 June:   

18.30 Film Screening, Khalili Lecture Theatre

  • Golden Slumbers, dir. by Davy Chou (2011)
  • Followed by a Q&A with the director and a wine reception

Friday 23rd June:      

18:30 Film Screening, Khalili Lecture Theatre

  • By the Time it Gets Dark, dir. by Anocha Suwichakornpong (2016)Khalili Lecture Theatre
  • (** This film contains a sequence of flashing lights which might affect viewers who are susceptible to photosensitive epilepsy)

Read more: full programme


£12 conference and film screenings (includes tea/coffee and lunch)

£7 film screenings without conference 

£0 film screenings free to first 50 SOAS students (id required on the day)

Book here


Organiser: SOAS Centre of South East Asian Studies

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Contact Tel: +44 (0)20 7898 4893