Reel Justice: Filipino Action Movies in a Time of Killing

This year saw the premiere of Itumba ang mga Adik (Kill the Addicts) in the Philippines. Shot in streets across the country, from narrow alleys to cramped rooms, the controversial film stars vigilantes, (suspected) drug users and dealers, crime syndicates, and innocent civilians. It has been a bloody tale of crime and punishment. There is a dark sense of deja vu about this spate of killings, for [...]

Mobile / immobile bodies: recollections of growing up in times of upheaval

Reports and images broadcast in international news media on the “the refugee crisis” and particularly the exodus of Syrian men, women, and children escaping their country’s civil war over the past several months have elicited memories of another large-scale flight when some forty years ago hundreds of thousands of Cambodian, Lao and Vietnamese people left their countries in the aftermath of [...]

Parasites’ Paradise: The Erasure of Memory in Dang Nhat Minh’s ‘The House of Guava (Mùa ỏ̂i)’

Memory, mourning, and melancholia figure prominently in the films of Dang Nhat Minh, Vietnam’s national film director and scriptwriter. Born in Hue in 1938, Dang studied in the Soviet Union where he was introduced to filmmaking (Cohen, 2001). His state-funded oeuvre – including When the Tenth Month Comes (1984), Nostalgia for the Countryside (1995), The Girl of the River (1987), and Don’t [...]

Potent Places as Embodied Memory in Cambodia

Commenting on sociologist Maurice Halbwach’s (1925) influential theoretical essay on memory, Paul Connerton declared that continuing to speak of “collective memory” required recognition that the term subsumed “quite simply facts of communication between individuals.” (Connerton 2010: 38). Following Halbwachs’ fundamental lessons, I take collective memory here to mean a narrative of [...]

Sculpting and Casting Memory and History in a Northern Thai City

Monuments and statues have long been popular among states seeking to define collective memory. Such obsession with statuary commemoration has even been described by some as a sort of ‘statuemania’, an ailment of national elites and urban planners not only in the west, but also in places like Thailand, where new monuments began to dot the urban landscape of Bangkok in the early twentieth [...]

Counter-memory: Replaying Political Violence in Thai Digital Cinema

Central to the Thai term for memory khwamsongcham = ความทรงจำ is song, which literally translates as form or medium. The word khwamsongcham in itself forges an embodiment of the past (albeit always interpreted), and signals the capacity for the transformation of memory through various forms and mediums, including social practices and material culture. One commits to embodied [...]

The Production of Shared Space: Notes on Indonesian Migrant Workers in Hong Kong and Japan

Our modern world is often characterized as fluid, in which the flow of capital, the stream of people and the flood of products follow multiple paths to keep the pulse of our modern life beating. Mobility of people and objects is clearly linked with the process of globalization. Migration and globalization are indeed twin processes that have transformed the production of space. This means that the [...]