Collegiate Affiliation

Located at the intersection of film and media theory, history, literary studies, colonial and postcolonial studies, Palita Chunsaengchan's research investigates how cultures of film and media manifest and respond to complex constructions of modernities in Southeast Asia with an emphasis on Siam/Thailand. Her forthcoming monograph, Siamese Chimera: the Sovereigns, Fans, and the Revolutionaries in Early Thai Cinema draws together the beginnings of Thai cinema and its complex intertwinement with the questions of modernity and the evolving epistemologies of sovereignty and modern nation-state. The archive constituting this book expands from the years of the absolute monarchy under the reigns of King Chulalongkorn, King Vajiravudh, and King Prajadhipok through the chaotic decade following the Siamese Revolution of 1932. On the one hand, this project traces the transnational, intermedial scene of cinema’s emergence and shows how cinema, imported along with other technologies and infrastructures of modernization, is deployed by the monarchic state and later by former revolutionaries to help constitute a national royalist sensibility. On the other hand, this project investigates how the Siamese commoners -- especially early cinema's fans -- indigenize this technology of representation along an entirely different and more democratic vector, and how the minoritized tropes and figures disrupt the top-down nationalist project with their own media initiatives. The monograph studies the archive of peripheral itineraries of cinema and deploys an intermedial approach in order to rethink the co-existence of sacred and secular media as in the case of early Thai cinema. Not only that her scholarship must engage with the writing of media histories outside the Euro-American context, and even within it in the case of minoritized modes of media consumption, but it also raises an important question around a particular mode of coloniality in Siam. By considering the refraction of Siam's coloniality in early Thai cinema, Chunsaengchan rethinks the power dynamics between the West and Southeast Asia, and puts forth the model of concentrated power of the Siamese sovereigns as another important site for colonial and postcolonial inquiries.

Educational Background & Specialties
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Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: Comparative Literature, University of Oregon
  • Specialized Certificate : New Media and Culture, University of Oregon

Specialties

  • Film history
  • Comparative Media Aesthetics
  • Early Thai Cinema
  • Contemporary Southeast Asian Cinema
  • Cinema and Politics of Class, Production, and Distribution