Pitt to Host 'Film and the End of Empire' Conference

Issue Date: 
September 20, 2010
Colin MacCabeColin MacCabe

A major international conference titled “Film and the End of Empire”—which has been designed to explore in depth the history of moving images of the British Empire—will be presented by the University of Pittsburgh Film Studies Program from Sept. 24 through 26 in the University Club.

“Film and the End of Empire” is a major scholarly and archival project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) of the United Kingdom.

In 2007, Colin MacCabe, Distinguished Professor of English and Film at Pitt, was awarded a grant of $1.06 million from AHRC for his research project, “Colonial Film: Moving Images of the British Empire.” With the award, MacCabe was charged with cataloguing a collection of more than 7,000 British films from pre-1900 productions to television-era programming. According to MacCabe, the project’s goal was to make the films available to a broad audience.

The Pitt conference is one of various scholarly investigations of the archival material that is under way. Paul Gilroy, Anthony Giddens Professor of Social Theory at the London School of Economics, and Priya Jaikumar, associate professor in the Department of Critical Studies in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, will deliver the conference’s keynote addresses. Gilroy’s talk is titled “Great Games: War, Film, and Working Through Britain’s Colonial Legacy,” and Jaikumar’s talk is titled “Place/Map/Archive: Colonial and Film Historiography’s Spatial Crisis.”

The conference schedule is available at http://filmandempire.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/zeprogramme1.pdf.

Pitt School of Arts and Sciences faculty taking part in the conference are MacCabe; Nancy Condee, a professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures; Lucy Fischer, Distinguished Professor of English and Film Studies and director of Pitt’s Film Studies Program; Neepa Majumdra, a professor in the Department of English; Patrick Manning, a professor of history and director of Pitt’s World History Center; Vladimir Padunov, a professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures; and Shalini Puri, a professor in the Department of English.

An online catalogue with more than 6,000 films will be available at http://www.colonialfilm.org.uk beginning this month for scholars, researchers, and the public. The new catalogue includes the entire corpus of representations of the British colonies in documentary or fiction films held in the collections of the British Film Institute, the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum, and the Imperial War Museum.

Other events planned as part of the overall project include a seminar series in London; workshops for young faculty, schoolteachers, and filmmakers; two edited collections of scholarly work; and discussions with primary and secondary teachers about curriculum development.

For more information or to register for the conference, send an e-mail to sarah_glauser@hotmail.com.