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Migrant Media in New York City

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Migrant Media in New York City

Migrant Media in New York City” aims to engage students in aspects of media, migration, and movement in the city that is home to the largest population of so-called immigrants, with as many as 800 languages spoken, and home to the largest metropolitan economy in the world. The particular confluence of commerce, migration, and urban density in New York produces very specific cultural forms. As a Film and Media scholar, I am interested in introducing students to the cinematic and media forms that this city engenders. The course is historical in scope and covers a diversity of racial and ethnic communities and their media production and consumption practices. It puts pressure on the very term, “migrant,” by including films and media that interrogate border regimes and immigration laws, and explores how New York is turned into a space of belonging, and indeed develops its particular cultural vibrancy only on account of its staggeringly diverse populace. We will screen films and include readings each week, but we will also visit the actual movie halls and other exhibition sites, museums, and archives to develop a deeply situated understanding of the role of media in the cultural life of New York.

Meet the Instructor(s)

Usha Iyer

Usha Iyer's research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of cinema, performance, and gender and sexuality studies, with a specific focus on film and performance histories, body cultures, and Global South cultural traffic along the vectors of race, gender, caste, and religion.

Iyer (she/they) is the author of Dancing Women: Choreographing Corporeal Histories of Hindi Cinema (Oxford University Press, 2020), which examines constructions of gender, stardom, sexuality, and spectacle in Hindi cinema through women’s labor, collaborative networks, and gestural genealogies to produce a corporeal history of South Asian cultural modernities. Through a material history of the labor of producing on-screen dance, theoretical frameworks that emphasize collaboration, aesthetic approaches to embodiment, and formal analyses of cine-choreographic "techno-spectacles," Dancing Women offers a variegated, textured history of cinema, dance, and music. The book was awarded the British Association of South Asian Studies (BASAS) Book Prize.

Iyer’s next book project is an examination of the affective engagements of Caribbean spectators with Indian cinema in relation to discourses of belonging and citizenship that have developed around the histories of African enslavement and Indian indentureship in Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, and Guyana. Examining as well the impact of Caribbean cultural forms on the Indian film industry, the project engages with transnational perspectives on race, ethnicity, performance, and migration to produce a multi-sited analysis of the traffic of sensory, embodied forms of knowledge across informal networks between South Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean.