Debashree Mukherjee’s research and teaching centers on the history of modern South Asian visual cultures and industries, with a specialized focus on late colonial Bombay cinema. She received her Ph.D in Cinema Studies (2015) from New York University, and holds an M.Phil degree in Cinema Studies (2009) from the School of Arts & Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, an M.A in Mass Communication (2004) from Jamia Millia Islamia University, and a B.A. in Literature from Delhi University. Dr. Mukherjee draws her methodological inspirations from feminist film historiography, archival studies, media archaeology, and transnational studies. Her interests lie in film historiographic method, cultural labor, mediated urbanisms, visual technologies, and emerging cinematic practices. She has published in a variety of academic journals and anthologies on topics such as the historiographic productivity of scandal narratives in recuperating women’s film histories; and the emergence of film journalism as a public discourse linking nationalism, stardom, and aspirational modern subjectivities. Her research has been funded by fellowships from the Charles Wallace India Trust, the American Institute for Indian Studies, and NYU’s Corrigan, Mainzer and Andrew Sauter grants.
Trained as a filmmaker, Dr. Mukherjee worked in the Bombay film industry from 2004-2007, on films such as Omkara (d. Vishal Bhardwaj, 2006). During this period she was also engaged in an ethnographic research project on cultures of contemporary film production initiated by Sarai-Center for the Study of Developing Societies (New Delhi). She brings her knowledge of film production, aesthetics, ethnography, and archival work to her current book project which presents a new cultural history of early Bombay cinema (1920s-1940s) by privileging cinematic practices and circuits of cultural work. Parallel projects include a cultural history of the left in late colonial Bombay; a transnational, comparative history of early cinematic cultures; experimental video practice in contemporary India; and digital humanities initiatives such as the indiancine.ma online annotation platform.
Debashree curated an exhibition of Indian film ephemera in 2013, titled Maya Mahal. She is currently an Editor with the peer-reviewed journal BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies, and will foresee the journal’s forthcoming reviews section.
Forthcoming. ‘Tracking Film Utopias: Technology, Labor, and Secularism in Bombay Cinema (1930s-1940s),’ in A Rao and A Rajagopal (eds.) Media/Utopia: Imagination, History, Technology, Routledge - Critical Interventions in Theory and Practice.
Forthcoming. ‘Scandalous Evidence: Looking for the Bombay Film Actress in an Absent Archive (1930s-1940s),’ in C Gledhill & J Knight (eds.) Doing Women’s Film History: Reframing Cinema’s Past and Future, University of Illinois Press.
2014. Filmi Jagat, A Scrapbook: Shared Universe of Early Hindi Cinema. With K Bhaumik and R Allana. New Delhi: Art Heritage & Niyogi Books.
2013. ‘Creating Cinema’s Reading Publics: The Emergence of Film Journalism in 1930s and 1940s Bombay,’ in R Sundaram (ed.) No Limits: Media Studies from India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 165-198.
2013. ‘Notes on a Scandal: Writing Women's Film History Against an Absent Archive,’ in BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies, 4(1), pp. 9-30.
2013. ‘The Politics of Making Uncanny: Two Recent Experimental Films from India,’ in N Van Tomme (ed.) Art Papers, January/February, pp. 33-35.
2013. ‘Out of Sight: Archiving Hidden Histories of Film Practice,’ in Art Connect, 7(1), pp. 42-59.
2011. ‘Letter from an Unknown Woman: The Film Actress in Late Colonial Bombay,’ in N Dinkar (ed.) Framing Women: Gender in the Colonial Archive, MARG Special issue, 62(4), pp. 54-65.
2010. ‘A Material World: Notes on an Interview with Ram Tipnis,’ in BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies, 1(2), pp. 199-205. Peer-reviewed.
2009. ‘Good Girls, Bad Girls,’ in A Sethi (ed.) Circuits of Cinema, Seminar special issue, 598, pp. 21-27.
2007. ‘Rented Space: Peripheral Economies of the Bombay Film Industry,’ trans. into Hindi by Amar, in R Kumar (ed.) Media City 03: Network Sanskriti. New Delhi: Sarai-CSDS, pp. 22-25.
2005. ‘Film Production: Tales From the Margins,’ trans. into Hindi by M Pandya, in R Kumar (ed.) Media City 02: Ubharta Manzar. New Delhi: Sarai-CSDS, pp. 25-35.