Where Histories Reside

India as Filmed Space

Book Pages: 416 Illustrations: 80 illustrations Published: October 2019

Author: Priya Jaikumar

Asian Studies > South Asia, Media Studies > Film, Theory and Philosophy > Postcolonial Theory

In Where Histories Reside Priya Jaikumar examines eight decades of films shot on location in India to show how attending to filmed space reveals alternative timelines and histories of cinema. In this bold “spatial” film historiography, Jaikumar outlines factors that shape India's filmed space, from state bureaucracies and commercial infrastructures to aesthetic styles and neoliberal policies. Whether discussing how educational shorts from Britain and India transform natural landscapes into instructional lessons or how Jean Renoir’s The River (1951) presents a universal human condition through the particularities of place, Jaikumar demonstrates that the history of filming a location has always been a history of competing assumptions, experiences, practices, and representational regimes. In so doing, she reveals that addressing the persistent question of “what is cinema?” must account for an aesthetics and politics of space.


“With grace and flair Priya Jaikumar shows how the preproduction practices and industry cultures of cinema—from expedition and nature films to commercial Bollywood cinema—produced and reinforced the spatial notions of territory and empire that dominated geopolitical histories. She looks forward to contemporary Indian geopolitics, as the privatization of economic resources increasingly harms vulnerable populations—even while location-based films exploit these populations and iconic precolonial architecture, now often in ruins, for a cinematic backdrop or ambience. Here is a magnificent study.” — Tom Conley, Abbott Lawrence Lowell Professor, Harvard University

Where Histories Reside is a superbly written book in which Priya Jaikumar uses the optics of space to recast the discourse of Indian cinema and its pasts. Landscape, territory, and architecture are brought into conversation with geography, cultural theory, cinema studies, and politics. The result is a magnificent and methodologically daring approach that displaces the desire for causality with the spatialization of historical inquiry.” — Ranjani Mazumdar, Professor of Cinema Studies, School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi

"Employing a variety of methodologies, the volume is valuable both in itself and as a model for subaltern cinema history and historiography." — K. J. Wetmore Jr., Choice

"Written with style and verve, [Where Histories Reside] is one of those rare academic works that can justifiably claim a readership beyond conventional disciplinary provinces like film history or theory." — Anustup Basu, Critical Quarterly


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Priya Jaikumar is Professor of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Southern California and author of Cinema at the End of Empire: A Politics of Transition in Britain and India, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  xi
Introduction: Filmed Space  1
Part I. Rationalized Spaces
1. Disciplinary: Indian Towns in British Geography Classrooms  35
2. Regulatory: The State in Films Division's Himalayan Documentaries  75
Part II. Affective Spaces
3. Sublime: Immanence and Transcendence in Jean Renoir's India  125
4. Residual: Lucknow and the Haveli as Cinematic Topoi  181
Part III. Commodified Spaces
5. Global: From Bollywood Locations to Film Stock Rations  233
Conclusion: Cinema and Historiographies of Space  287
Appendix  311
Notes  313
Bibliography  355
Index  389
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing

Named to the shortlist for the “Best Monograph” award from BAFTSS (British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies)

Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0475-2 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0412-7