Date of Graduation

Fall 12-15-2020

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Asia Pacific Studies (MAPS)


College of Arts and Sciences


Asia Pacific Studies

First Advisor

Brian Komei Dempster

Second Advisor

Wei Yang Menkus


This research investigates how personal politics, the poetics of cinematic narrative form, and current Southeast Asian landscapes are embodied in the work of filmmakers/artists Trinh T. Minh-ha (b. 1952, Hanoi, Vietnam) and Apichatpong Weerasethakul (b. 1970, Bangkok, Thailand). Trinh and Apichatpong’s transnational reflections and radical poetics challenge the West as the authoritative domain of modern knowledge, evoking a border rupture that questions hegemonic definitions of culture, history, geography, and society. Synthesizing art and politics, their works create experimental spaces to navigate the multidimensional consciousness associated with the Asia Pacific and global political issues of immigration, refugeeism, military action resistance, and surveillance. Ultimately, this research highlights the ongoing impact of Trinh and Apichatpong’s work on our awareness of relevant cultural and local phenomena along with identity transformation by calling attention to intangible borders that overcome the limiting boundaries of reality.

Through a multidisciplinary approach, this paper analyzes visual expressions and narrative strategies in Trinh and Apichatpong’s work that suggest global fluidity and multiplicity and utilizes the metaphor of “walking” to illustrate the idea of mobile boundaries. Particularly, my work addresses Trinh’s notion of “resonances in displacement” through innovative poetics and rhetoric regarding the concepts of “believe in land not borders” and “making and unmaking identity,” as well as Apichatpong’s meditations rendered through filmic and digital spaces on states of dream and reality, fiction and fact, and decayed memories of personal and regional histories. In doing so, this project furthers existing discourse about Southeast Asian narratives, providing a fresh and deeper understanding of how Trinh and Apchatpong’s contemporary poetic visual practices resist singular definition and contextualize their personal politics.