Crossing borders and connecting stories: Radical media and empowerment

A Migration seminar with Dr Isha Ting
Dr Isha Ting
International Institute for Asian Studies, Leiden University More about Dr Isha Ting
Tuesday 11 Jun 2024, 12:00 - 13:00
Spoken Language
Hybrid Room 4.25 and Teams
International Institute of Social Studies
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In this Migration seminar, Dr Isha Ting describes her work with a Hong Kong-based filmmaking collective and their documentary series on migration stories across Southeast Asia, mainland China and Hong Kong.

Ting's research concerns the Hong Kong-based filmmaking collective - v-artivist - and their three-part documentary series entitled 'exodus of nowhere; (2013-15), recountinng a series of migration stories across Southeast Asia, mainland China, and Hong Kong. 

The grassroots experience of mobility crossing through national, ethnic, class and ideological borders is set against, on the one hand, the exaltation of free global flows in capitalist modernity and, on the other hand, the grand historical narratives of colonialism, nationalism, revolution and capitalist globalization with their respective definitions of boundaries and identities. 

Her research studies how this bottom-up perspective enables the film to perceptively examine the reality of grassroots globalization with its numerous casualties and haphazardness. It also allows the film to cut through the quagmire of identity politics to reveal the hurt suffered by communities who were pitted against each other by the hands of power.

She also focuses on v-artivist’s attempt to turn documentary into a truly grassroots media with its own grassroots aesthetics. 'exodus' demonstrates the group's effort to use voice-over without assuming  a position of authority, to access archival footage through a network of documentary filmmakers and to use daily objects such as fabric, paper and magnets to produce low-tech stop-motion videos. 

Such an attempt, she argues, demonstrates how financial and technological barriers can be removed for grassroots practitioners of art and, as thus, empower common people’s continuous and autonomous engagement with art.

About the speaker

Dr Isha Ting is Research Fellow at the International Institute for Asian Studies, Leiden University. She got her PhD from the University of Chicago and formerly worked as Assistant Professor at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She is currently preparing a manuscript focusing on the art and politics of post-handover Hong Kong.


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