Through an interdisciplinary approach that foregrounds the affective dimensions of global media, my research addresses the question in film and media studies of how to speak about local cultural practice in non-essentialist terms. My primary research areas are Latin American cinema and popular culture; post-independence cinemas of Asia and Africa; theories of film, television and new media; postcolonial studies; trauma studies and affect theory. My research considers both what is represented on screen as well as how media move viewers (in the many senses of the word move) into alternative spectator positions and counterpublics off screen. Furthermore, my research underscores how texts move within and across circumscribed and overlapping spheres of influence. From the delimited circulation of popular comedies to the uneven circulation of theory in the periphery, my research supposes that the material circulation of both media objects and intellectual discourses must inform comparative global film histories and transnational theories of film and media.
Currently I am in the process of preparing the manuscript of a book based on my dissertation. The central aim of this project on early sound cinema in Latin America is to trace the cultural significance of film comedies. Through a discussion of the films of comedians Mario “Cantinflas” Moreno, Luis Sandrini, Niní Marshall, Oscarito and Grande Otelo, I explore how these commercially successful films negotiate local and global cultural influences, arguing that these comedies function as peripheral responses to modernization and anticipate and inform New Latin American Cinema. The untranslatable and non-circulatory characteristics of comedy suggest that these films function as peripheral and localized responses to modernity.
I have also begun work on a second project on documentary film practice and circulation in the Global South, particularly the material and intellectual exchanges between filmmakers from Africa, Asia and Latin America. I am interested in considering how a turn to affect – an exploration of intimacy and alternative modalities of belonging, a haunted historical project that affords a becoming-time of potentiality, and an epistemology founded on love and alterity – can re-articulate the film practice and theory of the periphery within a contemporary mediascape.