Examining Art & Technology’s Role in Social Movements: Film and Media Studies Adds New Class

By Amelia Merchant

The Film and Media Studies Department at CC has long had a good reputation as a solid, well-rounded department that offers many excellent classes such as Filmmaking, Screenwriting, and even a block on location in Hollywood. The department has just added an exciting new elective to their curriculum, called “Social Movement and Global Media,” taught by Visiting Professor Tilottama Karlekar.

Filmmaking students working at Baca Campus Photo courtesy of Film and Media Studies Dpt.

“We’re going to focus on some case studies of contemporary social movements and try to look back at the history of how media and art and technology have been implicated in social movements before the digital age” said Professor Karlekar. “So we’re going to look at documentary films, underground zines, and all kinds of media that has existed before to place what’s happening now in a starker context.”

Professor Karlekar grew up in India and has recently completed her Ph.D. at New York University (NYU) in Media, Culture, and Communication. She has previously taught at NYU, The New School, and Drexel University. A recipient of multiple awards for her work, Karlekar is an anthropologist of film and media whose concentrations span from transnational media and social movements.“ My interests in media and social and cultural change began to take shape when I worked in film and television production in Bombay, India,” said Karlekar. “I’ve tried to connect movements across the world and study those that have mobilized different ideas in different places.” She is also a Riley Scholar—the first recipient of this title to teach in the Film and Media Studies Department at CC.

Karlekar wants to use this class to contrast old forms of media and social movements with contemporary examples to create a broader understanding of current events for students.

“I grew up in India at a time where a lot of change was happening, where it was going from state-controlled media to this global transnational, very diverse media and I watched that change, and it became one of my interests,” said Karlekar. Protests around DACA, movements like Black Lives Matter, and demonstrations around the world employ all kinds of media, making this class deeply relevant in our day and age. Professor Karlekar explained, “The main question we want to ask in this class is, what can media do in social movements and what’s the connection between aesthetics and political activism?” Karlekar hopes to get more students excited about the topic, and to inspire them to take the class Block 3.

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