Visual anthropology, film studies, queer studies, social movements, human-environment relations, actor-networks of film production, sound in film, cinematic creation of empathy, radical hope approaches to research
Southeast Asia (especially Indonesia and Thailand)
Rosalia Namsai Engchuan is a social anthropologist and filmmaker working with audio visual media creators in Southeast Asia. She holds an MA in Modern South- and Southeast Asian Studies from Humboldt University, Berlin and a BA in Asian Studies and Management from HTWG, Konstanz.
Rosalia's PhD project explores the inter-mediated relations between the state and its citizens in a climate of technological innovation, democratization, increasingly orthodox interpretations of Islam, environmental and post industrial crisis and capitalism in contemporary Indonesia through an ethnographic examination of the cinematic practices of komunitas film (film communities) in Indonesia.
She is interested in forms of relatedness rather than objects. Her basic unit of analysis is therefore neither individuals or entities (persons or institutions) nor structural wholes (society, order, social structure) but the relational process of interaction at the intersection of multiple networks. Thus, she looks at the cinematic practices of making, screening and discussing film as a relational socio-technical process of collective agency. Such a relational perspective analytically prioritizes the connections being made within the ecosystem of komunitas film and unpacks how cinematic practices are enabled not only by the political climate after political reformation in 98 and technological advancements but also by a particular form of collaborative mentality and practice, often referred to as “gotong royong” - a local notion with a long (and complex) trajectory.
Based on her ethnographic fieldwork she looks at film communities as alternative pedagogical spaces and cinematic practices as a way of learning and creating alternative ways of knowing about the world. She conceptualizes film as language rather than text and explore filmic languages, that are other to scientific, logo-centric ways of communicating and disseminating knowledge(s). She then argues that the cinematic practices of komunitas film create spaces both material (the film) and social (the production and screening space) for other ways of knowing and in doing so radically reframe being Indonesian - collectively and performatively. With case studies on the cinematic practices around 1. queer film, 2. environmental film and 3. 65/98 related films she illustrates how cinematic practices are collaborative acts of world making that not only imagine, suggest or depict but in fact perform other ways of being Indonesian. Actualized speculative realities - other to and despite - the logic of the dominant imaginary of mainstream media and state-driven discourse, and extractive capitalism.
Rosalia's earlier research focused on representations of femininity and teenage sexuality in Thai television. She also worked on social movements for reproductive rights with the Women´s Health Advocacy Foundation in Thailand, which helped her to understand the challenges that teenagers in contemporary Thailand face with regard to their sexual and reproductive rights.
Rosalia is particularly interested in the ways filmmakers address social issues through their artistic practices. She herself uses video as a creative channel to contemplate on her theoretical research and experience of “reality”. Her work has been screened at the Asian Film Festival Berlin and the Jogja-Netpac Asian Film Festival. Linking theoretical research and artistic practice, she is currently working on a multimedia project to explore the possibilities of making academic arguments using audio-visual languages.