Animating Southeast Asia? The Visual Anthropology of Raya and the Last Dragon

Development Research Seminar with Steve Arounsack
Professor Steve Arounsack
Professor of cultural anthropology and award-winning filmaker More about Steve Arounsack
Tuesday 6 Jun 2023, 16:00 - 17:30
Spoken Language
Aula A
International Institute of Social Studies
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Please contact Eveline Deutman for more information about this seminar.

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Steve Arounsack

In this Development Research Seminar, Steve Arounsack will reflect on his role as the lead cultural advisor for the Oscar-nominated film Raya and the Last Dragon, Walt Disney Animation Studios’s first feature film seeking to reflect the cultures of Southeast Asia.

This assignment for Walt Disney Animation Studios included escorting the directors and the visual development team on a research trip to Northern Laos.

His reflections are informed by visual anthropology (his professional training) and further enriched by his Lao-American background. On this basis, he will shed unique light on the making of Walt Disney Animation Studios’s first feature film seeking to reflect the cultures of Southeast Asia.

Professor Arounsack will elaborate on the profound challenges of and debates about the incorporation and representation of Southeast Asian cultural elements in North American cultural productions and discuss some major Southeast Asian visual elements and cultural themes featured in the film.

Drawing on his personal journey with the film, Dr Arounsack will also discuss what the film meant for the Southeast Asian diaspora in the USA as well as how this Walt Disney production triggered development interventions in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

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The Development Research seminars present cutting-edge research on development studies by noted scholars from around the world. The Series aims to stimulate critical discussion about contemporary development issues.

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