From the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean: Locations of Leisure in Genre Histories of the Spy Caper
Featuring keynote speaker Dr. Samhita Sunya
What would it mean to approach a genre history of spy-action films “on location,” in terms of locations of not only production, but also distribution and imagination? Mediterranean and Indian Ocean locations have been embedded in espionage fictions—and eventually films—since the very emergence of this quintessentially modern genre. Drawing from a book-length project titled Agents on Location, Dr. Sunya focus on the spy-action caper’s meta-visual concerns with transgressive border crossings on the one hand, and spaces of modern leisure on the other, through themes of disguise, subterfuge, staging, and spectacle. By approaching this genre history through a genealogy of Hindi language Bombay films’ trysts with coastal locations, the speaker highlights espionage films themselves as historically fraught border-crossing objects whose celebrations of spectacle, sensuality, and leisure have seduced audiences as much as they have confounded regulators. Dr. Sunya brings Mediterranean and Indian Ocean locations to the fore of my historical inquiry, looking with fresh eyes at a genre whose imaginations and logics of scale have been resolutely global, and whose fuller accounting requires a commensurate, globally-oriented methodological approach.
This event is funded by the Title VI National Resource Center grant managed by the MSU Asian Studies Center, and organized by Kaveh Askari, Professor & Director of Film Studies, Joshua Yumibe, Professor of Film and Media Studies, and the Moving Image Workshop.