I graduated in African History and Social Anthropology, then practical film and photography, before going on to complete a Master’s and Doctorate in film and television studies. I am a senior lecturer in Film and Television at Birkbeck, University of London, and alongside my APC associateship, I am also a research associate at the University of Johannesburg to the Chair of the Centre for Social Change.
My research interests are in early British film and television history; film history in the British Empire; early South African non-fiction and documentary film; cinema in Africa; documentary and ethnographic film; law and visual culture; human rights film and video. I am currently engaged in a number of film archive projects on British and South African colonial film history and women’s film history. My research is concerned with re-viewing film histories and placing film within the broader debates about the politics of archive. I take a particular interest in film archives and issues of access, the preservation and conservation of film and related memorabilia, oral, and paper archive.
I have been involved in digital resource provision of film archive. I was a core management team and advisory board member of the AHRC-funded project, Colonial Film: Moving Images of the British Empire, which launched its online catalogue in September 2010, alongside two edited collections: Film and Empire and Film and the End of Empire eds., Lee Grieveson and Colin MacCabe, BFI Palgrave, 2011. I am on the steering group of the AHRC-funded Women’s Film History Network UK/Ireland which run workshops, conferences and has a website: http://womensfilmandtelevisionhistory.wordpress.com/. I am also an Executive Director of the Cinema, Human Rights and Advocacy summer school programme based at the University of Galway, that runs international training workshops on cinema and human rights and is funded by the Open Society Foundation, http://www.chra.ie/.
I have published on the emergence of documentary and newsreel in South Africa from the time of the Union in 1910 up until 1948, in relation to its contribution to notions of South Africanism; its role in promoting mining and other industrial interests; and its visualization and naturalisation of race segregation, land policies and apartheid legislation.
I am also working on the archive of South African film historian, film critic and writer, Thelma Gutsche (which is split between the Manuscripts and Archives at UCT, the National Film, Video and Sound Archives in Pretoria and the Harold Strange collection at the City Library in Johannesburg) with a view to a re-publication of her important film history of South Africa.
Other current work-in-progress and book projects include: a British Academy-funded project on missionary film in Africa and India; an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) ‘Creative Works London Voucher’-funded collaborative project in partnership with a film curator, The June Givanni Pan African Cinema Archive; and an oral history of early television in Britain.