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Dr Annamaria Motrescu-Mayes

Research projects & themes

Social Networks and Social Media:

Departments and Institutes

South Asian Studies:

Research Interests

I am a Research Fellow and Tutor at Clare Hall, a Research Associate and Affiliated Lecturer at the Centre of South Asian Studies, and I give annual guest lectures at the Division of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge. While my research centres on British imperial studies, my primary intellectual work is as a visual and digital humanities scholar. My research considers the construction of racial, gender and political identities in visual records and their relevance to current historical studies. In collaboration with several higher education and research institutions in India and China, and with colleagues from the Faculties of Education and History at the University of Cambridge, I explore new research and pedagogical methodologies that use theories of visual culture in advancing modern history programmes. I teach ‘Visual rhetoric and modern South Asian history’ and I am the convenor of the annual seminar series ‘Visual Constructions of South Asia’ ( – both hosted by the Centre of South Asian Studies. More recently, I started teaching a course on ‘Visual and digital anthropology of new media’ for SAN11: Anthropology of Media and Visual Culture (Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, Division of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge) and two courses at the Sichuan University (Chengdu, China): ‘Visual rhetoric and historical studies’ and ‘Visual anthropology and representations of the Self’ (

Through annual lectures and workshops I have secured several long-term research and educational partnerships with the Azim Premji Foundation and the Azim Premji University (Bangalore, India), the Centre for Women’s Development Studies (New Delhi), and Sichuan University (Chengdu, China). In both my research and teaching at Cambridge, I have made extensive use of and assisted with the establishment of online film archives of amateur (colonial) media such as ‘Images of Empire’ (Bristol), ‘Colonial Film’ (London) and the online archive held by the Centre of South Asian Studies (  In collaboration with the Centre for Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CRASSH) at the University of Cambridge I launched a conference program dedicated to visual studies and South Asian history; the first two events included ‘Exploring modern South Asian history with visual research methods’ conference (, and ‘Visual Anthropology and contemporary South Asian History’ conference (www scholarly work includes various publications and several outreach projects at universities and research institutes in the UK, Asia and Europe ( and   I am also the founder of Amateur Cinema Studies Network (, the first international project promoting amateur cinema/media studies.


Key Publications


2016.  Visual Histories of South Asia, co-edited with Marcus Banks. Under contract with Primus (Ratna Sagar). 

Forthcoming 2017. Amateur Media: Film, Digital Media and Participatory Cultures, co-authored with Susan Aasman. Under contract with Routledge. 

Forthcoming 2017. British women amateur filmmakers: national memories and global identities, co-authored with Heather Norris Nicholson. Under contract with Edinburgh University Press. 

Book Chapters and Journal Articles:

In press 2016. ‘Paradoxical Legacies: Colonial Missionary Films, Corporate Philanthropy in South Asia and the Griersonian Documentary Tradition’, In Colonial Documentary Film in South and South-East Asia, eds. Ian Aitken and Camille Deprez, Edinburgh Edinburgh University Press

In press 2016. ‘Ethnographies of trauma and migrant emotions: South Asian visual narratives of war and displacement’, In Pakistan Journal of Historical Studies, Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Forthcoming 2016. ‘Soldiers, Amateur Media and the Unbearable Intimacy of War Memories', In Changing Platforms of Mediated Memory Practices: Dispositifs, Generations and Amateurs, Susan Aasman, Andreas Fickers and Joseph Wachelder (eds.), New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

Forthcoming 2016. ‘Constantin Brancusi’s “double-take”: working in stone and 16mm film’. In Close-Up, Film and Media Studies, Vol. 1, No. 3.

2015, The Ascent of (Wo)man. Visual Priming in Early Photographs and Films of Ceylon, 1880s-1930s. Chapter in Imagining the Isle Across. Vintage Photography from Ceylon (Alkazi Foundation for the Arts, 2015, pp. 90-105)

2015, 'Britische Frauen mit imperialer Mission und ihre Amateurfilme', in Abenteuer Alltag. Zur Archäologie des Amateurfilms, eds. S. Mattl, C. Lesky, V. Ohner and I. Rechner. Osterreichisches Eilmuseum, Synema, pp. 172-182.

2015, "A Basketful of Heads". Review of 'Imag(in)ing the Nagas: The pictorial Ethnography of Hans-Eberhard Kauffmann and Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf' by Alban von Stockhausen. Stuttgart: Arnoldsche Art Publishers. In Visual Anthropology, Volume 28, Issue 5, 2015. pp. 460-464.

2014, ‘Personal films in the Digital Space’, a guest-edited special issue for New Cinemas: Journal of Contemporary Film, Vol. 11, Issue 2-3.

2014,  'Imperial imagination and colonial cities in inter-war amateur films', In Invisibles cités colonials. Domination and Resistance Strategies from the end of the XIXth century until today, eds. Choné A., Granchamp-Florentino F. and   Repussard C. Strasbourg: MISHA.

2013,  ‘Abjection et zèle patriotique dans le roman Char Adhyay de Tagore’, In Un autre regard sur la modernité/Ein anderer Blick auf die Moderne Rabindranath Tagore, Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag.

2013, 'Women, personal films and colonial intimacies', Close Up: Film and Media Studies, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 37-49.

2013,  'Uncensored imperial politics in British home movies from 1920s-1950s’, In Amateur filmmaking.The home movie, the archive, the web, eds. G. Young, L. Rascaroli, B. Monahan. London, New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

2011, ‘Imperial narratives displaced by subaltern Indian identities in early amateur films’, Journal of Early Popular Visual Culture, Routledge, Volume 9, Issue 2.

2010, ‘Private Australia: re-imagined nationhood in inter-war colonial home             movies’, Journal of Australian Studies, Routledge, Volume 34, Issue 3.

For a detailed list of papers, presentations and workshops see page.