Directory Profile

« Back to Directory

Priya Jaikumar, Ph.D.

Chair, Cinema & Media Studies
Research areas: Colonial and Postcolonial Cinemas, Film Theory and Historiography, Spatial Studies, Environmental and Elemental Media, South Asia, Transnational Feminism

Affiliated Divisions:

Division of Cinema & Media Studies

Work Phone: 213.740.3334
Office: SCA 320

Priya Jaikumar is Professor of Cinematic Arts in the Division of Cinema and Media Studies. A historian and theorist of film, she has written on colonial cinemas, postcolonial theory, South Asian and European commercial, art and non-theatrical films, comparative modernities and aesthetics in film, critical theories of film history, place and space in cinema, film and cultural geography, and transnational feminism. Her current work is in the fields of environmental and elemental humanities, particular in relation to the Global South.

Jaikumar’s widely reviewed first book Cinema at the End of Empire: A Politics of Transition in Britain and India (Duke University Press, 2006) details the intertwined industrial, regulatory and aesthetic histories of British and Indian cinema during the late colonial period (1927-1947). Her second book, Where Histories Reside: India as Filmed Space (Duke University Press, August 2019) examines eight decades of films shot on location in India to show how attending to filmed space reveals alternative timelines of cinema. Winner of the British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies Best Monograph Award (BAFTSS), the book has been notable for its definition and exploration of a “spatial” film historiography. A prior publication related to this book titled “An ‘Accurate Imagination’: Place, Map and Archive as Spatial Objects of Film History” published in Lee Grieveson and Colin McCabe’s Empire and Film received the Society for Cinema and Media Studies award for best essay in an edited anthology. In 2020, Jaikumar received USC's Phi Kappa Phi Faculty Recognition Award for major achievement in research.

Jaikumar’s scholarly work has appeared in journals such as MARG, Positions, Cinema Journal, The Moving Image, Post Script, Screen, World Literature TodayVLT, and in the anthologies Hollywood AbroadTransnational Feminism in Film and Media, Postcolonial Cinema Studies, Silent Cinema and the Politics of Space, The Slumdog Phenomena, Empire and Film and Routledge Companion to Cinema and Gender, among others.  At the Division of Cinema and Media Studies, Jaikumar offers seminars and lecture courses at the undergraduate and graduate level on world cinemas, theories of space and place in film, colonialism and cinema, film and memory, refugee and stateless cinemas, critical theories of history and modernity, postcolonial theory, state theory, Indian cinema, and more.

She has served on close to 50 dissertation committees in a range of disciplines, and in 2018 Jaikumar was awarded the USC mentoring award in the “Faculty Mentoring Graduate Students” category. She has also served on the Board of Directors of the Society of Cinema and Media Studies from 2006-2009, and previously worked as Assistant Professor of Film at the English Department in Syracuse University, where she was awarded the Department’s 2002 undergraduate teaching award. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of Radio, TV and Film at Northwestern University, and her dissertation was honored by the Society of Cinema and Media Studies.

Prior to her academic life, Jaikumar was a television reporter and print journalist in New Delhi, India, and publishing her writings with The Times of IndiaThe Indian Express, and the journal A&M (Advertising and Marketing). Her more recent appearances on television as a cultural commentator include Al Jazeera’s “Hollywood: Chronicle of an Empire” hosted by Marwar Bishara (March 2014), and the German documentary “Tiki-Pop: Paradise Remade” (ARTE channel, Germany, 2016).


Where Histories Reside: India as Filmed Space (Duke University Press, October 2019)

Cinema at the End of Empire: A Politics of Transition in Britain and India (Duke University Press, 2006) Full text available at:;keyword=Cinema%20at%20the%20end%20of%20empire


“Teaching Cinema and Media Studies Against the Contemporary Global Right,” Cinema Journal Teaching Dossier, co-edited with Kay Dickinson, August 2018.

“Feminist and Non-Western Interrogations of Authorship.” In Routledge Companion to Cinema and Gender, edited by Kristin Hole, Dijana Jelaca, E. Ann Kaplan and Patrice Patro, (NY: Routledge UP, 2017), 206-214

“Hospitality in the Time of Regulation: Films Division Tourism Shorts from the 1970s,” Special Issue on Indian Cinema, edited by Ravi Vasudevan, MARG Vol. 70, no 1 (Art magazine, Mumbai, India), September-December 2018.

“Out of Sync: Gendered Location Sound Work in Bollywood.” In Sounding Out! 2017.

“Haveli: A Cinematic Topos,” Positions (February 2017): 223-245

“Insurgent Place as Visual Space: Location Shots and Rival Geographies of 1857 Lucknow.” In Silent Cinema and the Politics of Space, edited by Jennifer Bean, Anupama Kapse and Laura Horak. (Indiana: Indiana UP, 2014), 47-70.

- Recipient of the best edited anthology award by the Society for Cinema and Media Studies (2015).

“Slumdog Celebrities,” In The Slumdog Phenomenon: A Critical Anthology, edited by Ajay Gehlawat (London: Anthem Press, 2013), 149-154

“Sabu’s Skins: The Transnational Stardom of an Elephant Boy,” Wasafari vol. 22 no. 2 (2012): 61-68.

 “Postface: On Teaching Postcolonialism and Cinema. Interview with Priya Jaikumar,” in Postcolonial Cinema Studies, edited by Marguerite Waller and Sandra Ponzanesi, 233-241. NY: Routledge, 2011

 “An ‘Accurate Imagination’: Place, Map and Archive as Spatial Objects of Film History.” In Empire and Film, edited by Lee Grieveson and Colin McCabe, 167-188. London: BFI Publishing, 2011.

- Recipient of the Best Essay in an Edited Anthology Award by Society for Cinema and Media Studies (2013).

 “A Dialogue on The River (Jean Renoir, 1951).” In Outsider Films on India, 1950-1990, edited by Shanay Jhaveri, 17-47. London, UK: I.B.Taurus, 2009

“Translating Silences: A Cinematic Encounter with Incommensurable Difference.” In Transnational Feminism in Film and Media: Visibility, Representation, and Sexual Difference, edited by Katarzyna Marciniak, Áine O’Healy, and Anikó Imre. London, UK:  Palgrave Macmillan 2007, 207-226

“Terrorism and the Politics of Film Language: Mani Rathnam’s Kannathil Muthamittal,” Post Script 25, no. 3 (Summer 2006), 48-64

“Hollywood and the Multiple Constituencies of Colonial India.” In Hollywood Abroad: Audiences, Reception and Cultural Exchange, edited by Richard Maltby and Melvyn Stokes, 78-98. London, UK: BFI, 2005

“Bollywood Spectaculars,” World Literature Today 3, nos. 3-4 (October-December 2003), 24-29.

“More than Morality: The Indian Cinematograph Committee Interviews, 1927-28” The Moving Image 3, no. 1 (Spring 2003), 82-109.

“An Act of Transition: Empire and the Making of a National British Film Industry, 1927, Screen, 43.2 (Summer 2002), 119-138.

“ ‘Place’ and the Modernist Redemption of Empire in Black Narcissus,” Cinema Journal 40.2 (Winter 2001), 57-77.