Speaking Nations, Edge Ways - Reviews of 'Postcolonial Hangups in Southeast Asian Cinema: Poetics of Space, Sound and Stability' by Gerald Sim, Amsterdam University Press, 2020; and 'Southeast Asia on Screen: From Independence to Financial Crisis (1945 – 1998)' edited by Gaik Cheng Khoo, Thomas Barker, and Mary Ainslie, Amsterdam University Press, 2020

Min Hui Yeo
2022 Winter 2021  
Yeo Speaking Nations, Edge Ways The two books cover a remarkable lot of ground. Despite a similar subject that they are dealing with, their research directions and methodologies differ in significant ways. Southeast Asia on Screen adopted a "sum of parts" approach to ensure that each member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Burma/Myanmar, Vietnam, Singapore, and Malaysia-is fairly represented in the anthology. Brunei, Laos, and Cambodia
more » ... re absent only because the call for papers reportedly did not attract any responses about these regional fields. This is understandable, for as Khoo explains, "Nascent independent filmmaking activities are only now appearing in these three countries." 2 Khoo's comprehensive introductory paper succinctly points out the uneven developments across Southeast Asian film industries and within Southeast Asian film studies. The difficulty in assigning equal space to each constituent cinema in the anthology is another reminder of the tremendous work that remains to be done in Southeast Asian cinema studies. Postcolonial Hangups assumes a different regional and geopolitical approach. In invoking the term Southeast Asian cinema, the author refers more to a region-specific postcolonial experience than to the term's geopolitical dimension. The book examines three particular Southeast Asian cinemas: Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Sim justifies this specificity by identifying a distinctive postcoloniality purportedly shared across these countriesthat is, postcolonial identities defined with relatively little hostility; an unconflicted warmth with which these Southeast Asian countries remember colonialism. 3 Sim argues that positive affinities with colonial histories are "unmistakable Southeast Asian stories," which we "cannot help but sense it on the ground and in the air." Such observations may be surprising "to the uninitiated and those who expect the postcolonial condition to leave subjugated peoples clinging to enmity," though not so much to "those who
doi:10.3998/gs.1705 fatcat:e567r3eh6ffj7a2uouy7skjjaa