Visual anthropology, film studies, queer studies, social movements, human-environment relations, shamanism, 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.
“If you want to understand Indonesia you have to watch short films.” (Indonesian film activist)
Rosalia’s PhD project “The Stories before Film: Cinematic Practices of Komunitas Film in Indonesia” is concerned with the roots and becoming of the larger ecosystem of komunitas film (film community/-ies) - the space where these short films are made, screened and discussed. Unlike in commercial cinemas, where film is mostly aimed at entertainment, the acts of making, screening and discussing film are organically interrelated in the cinematic practices of komunitas film. Often, films are made to create empathy and screened to trigger discussions on social issues. Rosalia’s focus on the larger ecosystem of komunitas film offers insights on the process of strategic self-bureaucratization and their relationships with state bureaucratic bodies as well as national and international non-governmental actors. Further, her interest in the process of filmmaking led her to explore the entanglements of religion, shamanism and technology during film production, as well as the workings of normativity as an actor in the actor-network of filmmaking. Rooted in her insights on the process of filmmaking as a performative and collective act, her method of ethnographically informed film analysis offers novel insights on acts of nation-making trough cinematic practices covering topics such as ethnicity, gender normativity, history-altering, human-environment relations in the Anthropocene and religiosity.
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.