Led by Columbia film scholars Debashree Mukherjee and Ying Qian, this summer 2017 program will take students to Mumbai and Beijing to investigate and compare contemporary media practices in India and China. Through visits to sites of media production, exhibition, and consumption, and meetings with a wide array of media practitioners, including independent documentary filmmakers, minority media activists, media corporations, and state institutions for media regulation and creation, students will discuss media in relation to (post)colonial conditions, authoritarianism, oppositional politics, urbanization and globalization.
Eligibility and Prerequisites
- Must be a rising junior or senior from CC, Barnard, GS, or SEAS.
- Must take at least one of several pre-approved courses taught by Ying Qian or Debashree Mukherjee in the Fall 2016 or Spring 2017 semesters.
- At EALAC, Ying Qian teaches three relevant courses: Introduction to Chinese Cinema (Fall 2016, undergraduate lecture), Media Cultures in China* (Spring 2017, graduate seminar), and East Asian Cinema (Spring 2017, undergraduate lecture)
- At MESAAS, Debashree Mukherjee teaches two relevant courses: Cinemas of India (Fall 2016, undergraduate lecture), and Visual Cultures of Modern South Asia (Spring 2017, undergraduate lecture)
*Enrollment requires permission of the instructor.
- Knowledge of media practices or prior exposure to East Asia/South Asia helpful but not required.
The course covers a variety of contemporary media, from the operations of Bollywood blockbusters to no-budget, independent videos; from internet poetry written by migrant workers to oppositional media practices by queer and minority activists.
The course is designed as a comparative research course with students spending their first three weeks in the Indian megalopolis of Mumbai, and the next three weeks in the Chinese capital of Beijing, where they will explore, study, and compare local media cultures firsthand. In addition to seminar-style classroom discussions of readings, films, and other materials, there will be frequent field trips to sites of media production, distribution, and consumption, and also meetings with a variety of figures active in local media practices—filmmakers, media activists, officials, and professionals in the media industries. The end goal is to expand our assumptions about what comprises "media", learn methods and approaches for studying media practice, and try to understand everyday aspirations and contradictions in contemporary India and China through a comparative lens.
The intensive course is structured around classes, field trips, lectures, and screenings held Monday through Friday. The rich and rigorous weekday schedule will be complemented by weekends that allow students plenty of time for study and preparation, as well as optional outings with classmates, and rest/relaxation. The summer course carries 5 credits, and may also fulfill a portion of the College’s Global Core requirement, pending final approval from the Committee on Instruction
Before embarking on the summer program, students will prepare in New York by taking one of several designated courses in the Fall 2016 or Spring 2017 semesters, in order to receive an introduction to media-related topics and issues in South and East Asia, and to acquire basic skills in media studies. Students will also attend a series of orientation sessions during the spring before departure, to prepare for the particular challenges and opportunities of research and travel abroad.
Timeline and Schedule
Three orientation sessions (1 hour each) in New York covering program details, logistics, insight into local cultures to promote respect and understanding, information on the cities, and introduction to the discussion of media & practice.
Reading packet and films – students need to finish the readings and viewings before travel.
3 weeks in Mumbai; 3 weeks in Beijing
Classes and fieldtrips held Monday-Friday (10-5pm)
Active documentation of city and course learning to be posted on course blog (photographic, poetry, video, field notes, etc.)
November 4th: Information Session
December 5th: Applications are due
December 5-16th: Interviews
January 31st: GSP 2017 cohort selected and informed
April 11th - 20th: Orientation Sessions
May 22nd – June 11th: On-program, Mumbai
June 12th – June 30th: On-program, Beijing
Details about housing, meals, activities and excursions are still being finalized and will be posted here.
is an Assistant Professor in the Department of East Asian Languages & Cultures. Dr. Qian received her doctoral degree from the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University in 2013. She is interested in a wide range of topics in Chinese literature, cinema and media studies, including documentary cinema in comparative perspectives, experience and memory of China’s revolutions and socialism, and writing, translation and filmmaking in China’s multi-lingual and multi-ethnic border regions and among the Chinese diaspora. She is completing a book manuscript entitled “Visionary Realities: Documentary Cinema in China’s Revolutionary Century,” which investigates documentary cinema’s capacities to mediate between the visible and the visionary in a society engineering its own radical transformation. She has also begun research for her second book project, which examines works and lives of writers, translators, and filmmakers working bilingually between Chinese and a non-Han language within China.
Besides academic research, she has been a filmmaker, critic and film programmer. She has been programming documentary and Asian cinemas for the last five years. Her film criticism has appeared in Chinese, English and Czech language newspapers and journals, and her own documentary and short films have been exhibited and broadcasted in a number of countries. She joins Columbia after a postdoctoral fellowship at the Australian National University.
is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies. Dr. Mukherjee's research and teaching centers on the history of modern South Asian visual cultures and industries, with a specialized focus on late colonial Bombay cinema. She received her Ph.D in Cinema Studies (2015) from New York University, and holds an M.Phil degree in Cinema Studies (2009) from the School of Arts & Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, an M.A in Mass Communication (2004) from Jamia Millia Islamia University, and a B.A. in Literature from Delhi University. Dr. Mukherjee draws her methodological inspirations from feminist film historiography, archival studies, media archaeology, and transnational studies. Her interests lie in film historiographic method, cultural labor, mediated urbanisms, visual technologies, and emerging cinematic practices. She has published in a variety of academic journals and anthologies on topics such as the historiographic productivity of scandal narratives in recuperating women’s film histories; and the emergence of film journalism as a public discourse linking nationalism, stardom, and aspirational modern subjectivities. Her research has been funded by fellowships from the Charles Wallace India Trust, the American Institute for Indian Studies, and NYU’s Corrigan, Mainzer and Andrew Sauter grants.
Trained as a filmmaker, Dr. Mukherjee worked in the Bombay film industry from 2004-2007, on films such as Omkara
(d. Vishal Bhardwaj, 2006). During this period she was also engaged in an ethnographic research project on cultures of contemporary film production initiated by Sarai-Center for the Study of Developing Societies (New Delhi). She brings her knowledge of film production, aesthetics, ethnography, and archival work to her current book project which presents a new cultural history of early Bombay cinema (1920s-1940s) by privileging cinematic practices and circuits of cultural work. Parallel projects include a cultural history of the left in late colonial Bombay; a transnational, comparative history of early cinematic cultures; experimental video practice in contemporary India; and digital humanities initiatives such as the indiancine.ma online annotation platform.
Dr. Mukherjee curated an exhibition of Indian film ephemera in 2013, titled Maya Maha
l. She is currently an Editor with the peer-reviewed journal BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies
, and will foresee the journal’s forthcoming reviews section.
For advising and program information, please contact Jiyeon Glass to schedule an appointment: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuition and Fees
TBD: This section will be updated when finalized.
Columbia University is pleased to announce that, with generous support from the President’s Office, it will be able to offer the GSP with a needs blind application process and significant financial aid available for students selected to participate.
Students are eligible to apply for the Weatherhead Undergraduate Training Grant
Provides up to $2,500 in support to undergraduate students for summer projects in East Asia that develop academic and/or professional expertise.