Call for Proposals: Handbook on Asian Cinema

Deadline: 30th Sep 2014

Designed for Palgrave’s “handbook” series that brings together cutting-edge scholarship on key topics in film and media studies, we plan for this volume to make an intervention in ongoing debates surrounding the nature and direction of the study of Asian film. From Bollywood to Hallyu, from the rising cinemas of West and Central Asia to the Chinese “new waves,” Asia provides world screens with some of its most dynamic, innovative, and provocative fiction, documentary, animated, experimental, and hybrid films.However, the concept of “Asian cinema” too often conjures up visions of staid Hollywood imitations, turgid propaganda, and exercises in national chauvinism. The definition of “Asian cinema,” in fact, lags behind what is actually happening on set and on location, in the cinema as well as on the computer screen.  Not only have regional flows intensified in recent years, but global currents have swept Asia in heretofore unimagined ways. Transnational co-productions seem to be the norm rather than the exception and diasporic filmmaking has found a voice that may be “Asian” to a degree but located in Europe, America, Australia, or elsewhere.  New technologies enable the dissemination of films far outside the established art house and festival circuits of the past.  New institutions (archives, museums), alternative funding sources (NGOs, festivals), and cutting-edge motion picture media (Web 2.0, cell phone videos) come together to make established notions of “Asian cinema” passé.There is clearly a pressing need for a reassessment of the utility of the term to regional studies of Asia as well as to the disciplines of film, media, and cultural studies.

It may be important, though, to go a step further, and make a case for what are, in our opinion, some of the most productive places for the invocation of “Asian cinema” as a conceptual framework. These include studies of the depiction of the region in world cinema (Hollywood, Europe); comparisons of common histories (colonial legacies); exploration of Asian aesthetic traditions (linked to cultural flows along the Silk Road, for example).  Asian cinema studies also welcomes comparative analyses of modernity, postmodernity, globalization, and geopolitical phenomena (Cold War) and transnational iterations of genres (noir, gangsters, etc.) as well as examinations of Asian stars and fandom. Asian “global” cities and urban cinemas (slums in Mumbai, Manila) can be considered alongside the creation of counter-publics (importance of transnational links in queer film, third cinema, and women’s filmmaking, for instance) as well as the depiction of global issues within the region (eco-cinema, anti-capitalist critique, other political movements).

Rather than focusing on Asian cinema as the sum of the national cinemas of Asia, then, we argue that Asian film scholarship needs to do more in order to continue to find a place within serious academic inquiry.  It must be comparative and global with an eye to the ongoing importance of the regional to filmmakers, distributors, programmers, audiences, as well as scholars.  If this is not kept in mind, Asian cinema will dissolve into thin air leaving the local, national, and global in its wake.


Planned sections include

Section I:  Theorizing Asian Film
Section II:  Space and Place
Section III:  Questioning Asian Bodies
Section IV:  Contested Asian Values
Section V:  Art and Industry
Conclusion:  The Future of Asian Cinema



Aaron Magnan-Park (University of Hong Kong)
Gina Marchetti (University of Hong Kong)
Tan See-Kam (University of Macau)


Palgrave Macmillan has expressed interest in this project, and we are currently putting together a table of contents for the volume.  We envision 3-4 chapters per section with each chapter averaging 8000 words. If you are currently conducting research in this area and would like to be considered for this volume, please send us an abstract of your chapter (250-300 words) and a brief biography (100 words) by September 30, 2014. We plan to put together the table of contents and submit the project for review by October 2014.  We will begin to edit draft chapters as soon as the contract is finalized and expect to have the book completed by June 2015.


Submit your proposals to Ms. Kasey Man Man Wong at by September 30, 2014.



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