Rendez-vous de l'Institut: The Fellows' Series

Debashree Mukherjee:
Between Human, Nonhuman, and Woman: An Actress Theorizes Exhaustion

  • Thu, February 27, 2020 | 6:30 p.m.
  • Reid Hall | 4, rue de Chevreuse, 75006 Paris
  • Free and open to the public

In 1939, at the height of her stardom, the actress Shanta Apte (pron. Aap-tay) went on a spectacular hunger strike in protest against her employers at Prabhat Studios, India. The following year, Apte wrote a harsh polemic against the extractive nature of the Bombay film industry. In Should I Join the Movies? (1940), Apte highlighted the durational depletion of the body that is specific to acting work; a steady withering away of human capacities due to temporally accruing over-exertion on one hand, and under-use on the other.

In this talk, Debashree Mukherjee interrogates these two unprecedented cultural events – a strike and a book – and positions them as theory from the South that can help us rethink the meanings of gender, embodiment, labor, inequality, and human-machine relations in cinema. Thinking with Apte, we are compelled to acknowledge the materiality of the offscreen world of cine-work and to consider embodiment as the grounds for resistance.

Read more about Debashree Mukherjee.

Watch Debashree's talk here: