Current & Future Projects

Inscribed in both textual and visual practices, my engagement with anthropology and the study of Islam is anchored in both Middle Eastern studies and Southeast Asian studies. I use the power of moving images often denigrated as minor and mediocre to emulate alternative spaces of creation within cultural and media studies. My overall scholarly orientation offers to rethink flows of migration and cosmopolitanism as affective processes engendering history. I see in the practice of visual and digital anthropology the potential to foster an inviting humanistic theory in and with images.

 
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Touching Image of History: Cham Practices of Looking across Cambodia and Iran

Touching Image of History explores the “difficult to picture” that haunts the contemporary mundane visual archives of the Cham Muslim diaspora, caught between Cambodia and Iran. It attends to the transnational media practices of the Cham diaspora in a rethinking of the divide between Sunnism and Shi’ism. This process, which I call a “going to the pictures” is an invitation to look back at a history embedded in images deemed “a-historical”. Those “practices of looking” offer alternative ways of sensing both a history under erasure and a haptic and sonic visuality. They gesture toward a history both common to global Shi’ism and specific to Cham descendants of the Prophet’s family within Cambodia. For Touching Image of History I conduct a double research: in Cambodia, I am a community videographer among rural media producers on the go, and engage the handling of family albums, the circulation of social media selfies, and the careful staging of wedding videos. In Iran, I am a student of Shi’a studies working alongside international students in Iranian seminaries.


Sensing History 

Currently in development, Sensing History is an ethnographic experimental feature film which furthers the ghostly texture of history explored in Touching Image of History. Investigating how radical perceptions of timespaces can twist our approach to expanded and transcultural cinema, Sensing History conveys an alternative sense of temporality through overlays of still and moving images. Shot on 16mm, the grain of the negative writes a history of erasure, as the film burns out at each screening a little further. In the end, the film is gone, so is the archive, each viewer experiencing memory partially. In its digital iterations, Sensing History is always a supplemental archive of itself: rogue shootings from the back of movie theaters, always explicitly taking angles and positions, the viewer opens up just another subjective record of historiography to which she is herself participant.

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Stream On: A Sense of One’s Own

This second manuscript project furthers interrogations of cosmopolitanism away from the centralization of “globalization” in the West, and of modernity away from notions attached to secular assumptions of “progress”. An ethnography with Iran and social media multimodal compositions, it asks how does one come to fulfill oneself away from estranging homes.