Sandeep Ray is a writer, historian and visual artist.
A latecomer to fiction, Sandeep’s debut novel, A Flutter in the Colony (HarperCollins India, 2019) – set in time and temper between the rubber plantations of 1950s Malaya and the anguish-filled years of pre-Partition Bengal – has won acclaim. The Times of India said that ‘the writing is a pleasure to read, it flows dreamily’, and the Mekong Review wrote that the ‘story – one of love, family, humanity, nationhood, friendship, loyalty and tragedy – is as intricate as the rich fabric of Malayan society itself.’ Meanwhile, The Hindu boldly claimed that the book is ‘destined to be a classic’. Sandeep’s forthcoming monograph, Celluloid Colony (NUS Press), about Dutch propagandistic film in colonial Indonesia, is based on exhaustive research in film archives in the Netherlands.
Sandeep’s earlier interests focused on film – understanding the past through visual archives and filming the everyday overlap of fact/fiction. He cut his teeth freelancing commercially in Boston, becoming senior editor and researcher on several longue durée projects – the !Kung ethnographic film archive, the largest at the Smithsonian Institution; the educational outreach of National Geographic; and on a multi-part series for the Harvard Science Education Department. He also travelled widely and produced a diverse body of personal and historical works filmed in Kolkata, Aceh, Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, the Timor border, Namibia and Greece. Of these, The Sound of Old Rooms, a 20-year collaborative coming-of-age story about a poet, won the Grand Prize at the Taiwan International Documentary Festival in 2012. In 2014 Thin Arms, a short about mortality won Best Director at the Dubai International Film Festival. His documentaries are distributed by DER, a leading resource for ethnographic film. They have have been reviewed in the American Anthropologist, 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 Films Division of India, and the Whitney and Getty Museums.
Sandeep has a PhD in history and currently teaches Southeast Asian history at SUTD in Singapore. Alongside his creative and academic roles, he has lectured widely and been invited to serve on film juries.
For talks, readings, and screening requests please see contact information.
‘Lecturing on Freud’ Doodle by Simon-Kyle Rocknathan
Courses currently taught:
1. Southeast Asia Under Japan: Motives, Memoirs, and Media
2. History through Literature: Rebellion in Late Colonial Southeast Asia
3. Non‐Fiction and Ethnographic Film: Theory and Practice
4. Theorizing Society, the Self, and Culture (team taught)