PhD Oral Exam - Weixian Pan, Film and Moving Image Studies
When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.
Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.
This dissertation examines the role of digital media in shaping the geopolitics and materiality of environments in China over the first two decades of the twenty-first century. I look at digital discourses (“smartness,” “connectivity,” “data transparency”), media practices (film/video, satellite images, data capture), and infrastructures (surveillance, telecommunication) and argue that environments, such as land, sea, and air, are increasingly transformed into political territories, and engineered as part of the new technologies of social governance in the digital era. More specifically, this dissertation moves from urban smart infrastructures in Southern China (Chapter One), to contested mediations of the disputed South China Sea (Chapter Two), and finally to the circulation of air pollution, data, and imaginaries across the global South (Chapter Three). With ethnographic research in addition to visual and discursive analysis, my work employs a multi-scalar approach—sub-national, regional, global—to explore both the institutional and popular actors that shape these eco-digital formations. Focusing on the South as both a geographical and political concept, this orientation challenges the Northern-centered vocabularies and framing of global film and media studies. Meanwhile, China Southern reinstates the transnational momentum of the Southern question (Casarino 2010), especially situated at the juncture between neoliberal experiments since the 1990s and the rise of the “Chinese Dream” in the 2000s as a cultural discourse. In doing so, this research contributes to the broader discussion on global governance, and conceptualizes the often obscured theoretical and material entanglement of media and environments in Asia.