Home / Education / Undergraduate Subjects / Sandeep Ray



Research Interests:
Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences
Discipline: History and Film
Pillar / Cluster: Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences


My primary area is Southeast Asian history and visual studies. I have related interests in non-fiction film; the novel; memoirs; newsreels; old media; the current global refugee crises; and transnational approaches to Asian Studies. I explore and emphasize the connections between media and history.  My book ‘Celluloid Colony’ is an analysis of colonial propaganda films produced in the Netherlands East Indies. Prior to joining SUTD-HASS, I was a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin (2015-16), and a Luce Postdoctoral Fellow at Rice University (2016-17).

My films have been reviewed in The American Anthropologist and the Journal for Visual Anthropology and have screened at several festivals including in Busan (BIFF), Taiwan (TIDF), Sydney, Paris (Jean Rouch), Tehran (IIFF), Copenhagen (DOX), and have curated at the Flaherty Seminar, the Margaret Mead Festival, the Films Division of India, the Asia Research Institute (NUS), and the Whitney and Getty museums.

I welcome students keen on exploring histories, ethnographies, and visual representations of Asia. To encourage a hands-on approach in addition to learning theory, I created the Non-Fiction Film Lab. We are located at the IDiA Annex. Projects include ongoing films made by SUTD students and a new SUTD Pedagogy Innovation Grant initiative to explore machine learning (ML) to restore and display archival film.


Book Chapters and Journal Articles
  • ‘Inadvertent Ethnography in Propaganda: J. C. Lamster’s Films (1912–13).’ Indonesia, no.106 (2018): 137-56.
  • ‘Two Films and a Coronation: The Containment of Islam in Flores in the 1920s’ in Ian Aitken and Camille Deprez (eds.), Colonial Documentary Film in South and South-East Asia (Edinburgh University Press, 2016).
  • ‘Epistemological Considerations of Studying History Through Film with Reference to Indonesia’, Transnational Asia, 1, 3 (2016).
  • ‘The komedi bioscoop: Early cinema in Colonial Indonesia’, Dafna Ruppin (London: John Libby, 2016), in the Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 49, 01 (2018).
  • ‘I’ve Got the Blues’, Angie Chen, in Hong Kong International Film Festival Collection, (July 2018).
  • ‘Mallamall’, Lalita Krishna, in Pacific Affairs, 88, 2 (2015): 387-389.
  • ‘Tanah Mama’, Asrida Elizabeth, in Inside Indonesia, 119 (2015).
  • ‘To Singapore With Love’, Tan Pin Pin, in The New Mandala, (January 2015).
  • ‘Jalanan’, Daniel Ziv, in Inside Indonesia, 118, (2014).
  • ‘Atambua 39 Degrees Celsius’, Riri Riza, in Inside Indonesia, 117 (2014).
  • ‘Leaving Bakul Bagan’ (1993)*. Reviewed in Visual Anthropology, Vol 9, no.1 (1996).
  • ‘Miyah: The Life of a Javanese Woman’ (1999)*. Reviewed in AEMS, Vol. 3, no. 1, (2000).
  • ‘A Trial in East Kalimantan: The Benoaq Dayak Resistance’ (1999)*. Reviewed in AEMS, Vol. 7, no. 1, (2004).
  • ‘In the Aftermath of Peace: Hope and Struggle in Aceh’ (2010). Reviewed in The Jakarta Globe, “Uneasy Peace in Focus”, (May 2010)
  • ‘A Road through Fatulotou’ (2010).
  • ‘The Sound of Old Rooms’ (2011)*. Reviewed in American Anthropologist, Vol. 118, 3, (2016).
  • ‘Thin Arms’ (2013).
  • ‘Safe’ (in-progress)

*Distributed by Documentary Educational Resources, Watertown, MA.


  • B.A., Hampshire College
  • M.A., The University of Michigan
  • PhD., The National University of Singapore


Research Interests

  • Southeast Asia
  • Media and History
  • The Japanese Occupation in Asia
  • Ethnographic and Non-Fiction Film
  • Visual Archives
  • Transnational Studies of Asia


  • 2015-16 Henry Luce Postdoctoral Fellow, Rice University
  • 2011-15 Lee Kong Chian Scholar, National University of Singapore
  • 2012 Grand Prize, Taiwan International Documentary Festival
  • 2013 Best Director, Dubai International Film Festival
  • 2007-09 U.S. Department of Education – Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship, University of Michigan
  • 2009 Asian Cinema Fund, BIFF, South Korea
  • 2006 LEF Moving Image Fund
  • 1999 USAID post-production grant
  • 1996 NEH script development grant (principal team member)
  • 1992 Princess Grace Foundation undergraduate thesis film grant