UCL Anthropology


Timothy P.A. Cooper

Timothy Cooper

UCL Email: timothy.cooper.16@ucl.ac.uk
Websites: www.timothypacooper.comhttps://ucl.academia.edu/TimothyCooper
Year of Start: 2016
Supervisors: Prof. Christopher Pinney and Prof. Haidy Geismar
Subject: Material and Visual Culture
Fieldsite: Lahore, Pakistan

PhD Research

Moral Atmospheres: Interdiction and Reproduction in Marketplace Pakistan

My current research, attempts to understand the coexistence of media ecologies of interdiction and reproduction, and the ways in which discussions over permissibility demarcate the ambient space of religious experience in contemporary Pakistan. I explore how moral and material discourses over the place and permissibility of film and video have been met with participative strategies of marketplace recording and retrieval. Taking a market in urban Lahore long famous for its traders’ repertoire of Pakistani films and music in copy and religious media outlets serving minority Shi’i communities as points of transit my ethnographic fieldwork explored the morality of recording and reproduction that proliferated in the era of home audio and video and continue to the present. I am now keen to understand how moral atmospheres are produced through periods of moral exception whereby practices deemed immoral – but otherwise tolerated – are eschewed in the production of a space of emotional modesty for others.

Research Interests

  • Emotions
  • Islam
  • Media
  • Morality
  • Atmosphere
  • Permissibility
  • Informality


“The Circulatory Dynamics of Pakistani Film”, chapter in forthcoming compilation of academic essays on Pakistani Cinema, Ali Nobil Ahmad and Ali Khan eds. Oxford University Press. (Forthcoming 2019)

“Cinema Itself: Cinephobia, Filmic Anxieties, and Ontologies of the Moving Image in Pakistan.” Visual Anthropology, Volume 31, 2018 - Issue 3: Film, and Its Audiences, pp. 253-267. (on curriculum of University of Edinburgh School of Social & Political Science Social Anthropology course “Keywords in South Asian Public Culture”)

“Raddi Infrastructure: Collecting Film Memorabilia in Pakistan: An Interview with Guddu Khan of Guddu’s Film Archive.” In BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies, Vol 7, Issue 2, 2017. pp. 151–171

“Migratory Surfaces: An Informal Visual Economy and the Repair of the Colonial Archive” in AfterImage: The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism, Vol 42, No 4 (March 2015), pp. 8-15. (Cover Feature)

“Film Review: Behind The Screen.” Urbanities – Journal of Urban Ethnography, Vol 6 – No 2 – Nov 2016, pp. 116-117.

“The Black Market Archive: The Velocity, Intensity, and Spread of Pakistani Film Piracy” in Archival Dissonance: Contemporary Visual Culture and Knowledge Production in the Middle East, Anthony Downey ed, (London: I.B Tauris, 2015), pp401-418.

“Animation, Transformation and Indoctrination: The Hypothetical Image of Disney’s Animal Soldiers,” in Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Vol 9, Issue 3, 2014. pp. 333–351


2018, “Sacred Hunger: The Cinema of Jamil Dehlavi” Sight and Sound Magazine

2016, “Diverse Documents: Surrealism, Anthropology, and Michel Leiris,FriezeMasters

2016, “From the Ground Up: 3D Printing and Destroyed Artifacts,” Frieze Magazine

2016, "The Circulatory Dynamics of Pirate Cinema", Rhizome (New Museum, NY)

2016. “Capacious Tapes: Audiocassettes as Intangible Cultural Heritage.” ArtPapers

2015. “Welcome to Containerstan: how the shipping container took over the world”, NewStatesman

2015. “On Informality and Nomadism.” ArtPapers “Islands” Issue

2015. “The Visual Archive of Devotion and Taboo.” Rhizome (New Museum, NY)

2014. “Destruction Ceremonies as 21st Century Book Burning.” Rhizome (New  Museum, NY)

Presentations & Conferences

  • 10/2019 Co-convenor with Dr Chris Moffat. Chair: Dr Ammara Maqsood. Panel title: The Aesthetics and Atmospheres of Construction in Pakistan. Madison South Asia Conference
  • 09/2019 Co-convenor with Adam Runacres. Two-session panel titled: Ferality and Fidelity: Conservation as a Space of Social Reproduction at ASA19: Anthropological Perspectives on Global Challenges
  • 05/2019 Presenter. University College London Material Culture Day. Convened by Dr. Raphael Schacter.
  • 03/2019 Co-convenor of two session panel titled We Three: Apparatus, Subject, Society at the Royal Anthropological Institute Film Festival, 27-30 March 2019.
  • 06/2018 Co-convenor of panel titled Participation and Guardianship: On the Ownership of Images in Movement at the Royal Anthropological Institute, The British Museum, and the Department of Anthropology at SOAS Art, Materiality and Representation British Musuem/SOAS, 1st-3rd June 2018

Teaching Experience

  • 2010 Lecturer - Human Rights in British Politics (1st year BSc) Univ. Paris Descartes
  • 2010 Maître de Langue (English Language Lectureship) Univ. Paris Descartes

Education History

  • 2008-2009 MA in Cinema Cultures, King’s College London, UK (Distinction) Dissertation explored diasporic filmmaking in post-socialist Lithuania.
  • 2005-2008 BA Hons Comparative Literature with Film Studies, King’s College London, UK (Honours) Final year project: Materiality and found footage techniques in the Austrian avant-garde

Honours, Awards & Funding

  • 2019–2020 AHRC London Arts and Humanities Partnership (LAHP) Research Placement (six months full follow -on funding).
  • 2016–2019 AHRC London Arts and Humanities Partnership (LAHP) Research Studentship. Full Award (fees + maintenance). AHRC Subject Area: Film History, Theory and Criticism, Interdisciplinary Panel
  • 2018 UCL Centre for Critical Heritage Studies Small Grant (£2000) The Space of the Cinema in the Post-Crisis City. Ethnographic research in Lahore & Jaffna, Sri Lanka. With Vindhya Buthpitiya.

Additional Information: Impact Activities

08/2018 Public Film Retrospective, British Film Institute, London; Between The Sacred and Profane: The Cinema of Jamil Dehlavi, British Film; Institute, London. (Co-curator). Including chairing Q&A with director and introducing films.

Press: “Jamil Dehlavi Interview with Fatima Bhutto”, The Guardian 09/09/18;

“’Jinnah’ Filmmaker to be showcased by British Film Institute”, Pakistan Express Tribune, 08/08/18

“Sacred Hunger: The Cinema of Jamil Dehlavi” Sight and Sound Magazine

Additional Information: Film, Music, and Media Work

Scratches on Celluloid (Dir. Timothy Cooper & Vindhya Buthpitiya, 2018, 53mins)

  • 20/03/2018 SOAS Ethnographic Film Series, Russell Square, London UK.

The King of the Cockroaches (Dir. Timothy Cooper, 2016, 70mins)

  • 30/03/2017 Official Selection, 15th Royal Anthropological Institute Film Festival Q&A
  • 18/10/2017 SOAS Ethnographic Film Series, Russell Square, London UK.

The Storehouses of the World (Dir. Timothy Cooper & Abeera Arif-Bashir, 2018, 27mins)

  • 27/09/2018 Creative Image: Ways of Seeing, Representing, and Reshaping Reality. Visual Image Network Conference, University of Manchester, UK.
  • 20/03/2018 SOAS Ethnographic Film Series, Russell Square, London UK.

Pirate Modernity – an archival cooperative supporting popular music from Afghanistan and Northwestern Pakistan