UCL Anthropology


Timothy P.A. Cooper

Timothy Cooper

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

PhD Research

Moving images and images in movement: The circulation and materiality of Pakistani film in Lahore.

While many fondly remember the richness and vibrancy of Lollywood cinema that flourished in Lahore from the 1960s to the early 1980s, today Pakistan is remarkable for the ways in which a nostalgic cinephilia, a passionate interest in cinema, coexists with a variety of moral, ideological, and class-based anxieties over the place of film media in the nation state. The ambiguous moral position of film media in Pakistan, the decreasing presence of cinemas, the lack of a state film archive, and the shift to private (digital) consumption is joined by the phenomena of specialist urban shop clusters in Pakistan dealing in the dissemination of mass-copied images, preserving them not by altering the quality but by bringing them into the marketplace for public consumption. By cataloguing, retrieving, restoring, and ensuring continued access to domestically produced heritage and contemporary Pakistani films, in many ways these dispersed collections stand in for a national film archive.

In my doctoral research I will explore these issues of informal and participatory heritage transmission in Lahore, operating in relation to dominant or absent heritage regimes. Following a material turn in the anthropology of film my project will also focus on the circulation and epistemology of moving images in Pakistan, primarily exploring how the national and transnational migration of Pakistani films across formats - focusing on the most commonly used format of Video-Compact Discs (VCDs) - has generated an on-going inventory in the absence of any state-sponsored provision for the protection of film heritage in the country.

Situations in which the epistemology - and in some cases permissibility - of technological objects and mechanically reproduced visual media (such as moving images) is negotiated via their very ontology is another issue that drives my interest in film in Pakistan.

Research Interests

  • Participation
  • Heritage and Archival Access
  • Informality
  • Public Culture
  • Material Religion


Publications under review
  • Cooper, T. P.A. 2017. "Cinema Itself: Cinephobia, Filmic Anxieties, and Ontologies of the Moving Image in Pakistan." Pakistan Journal of Historical Studies. Special issue: Visual Constructions of South Asia, edited by Annamaria Motrescu-Mayes (Cambridge).
Peer-reviewed publications and book chapters
Selected long-read/essays

Presentations & Conferences

  • June 2018 (Forthcoming). Co-convenor with Vindhya Buthpitiya (UCL) 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.
  • 30/03/2017. The King of the Cockroaches (Dir. Timothy Cooper, 2016, 70mins) Official Selection, 15th Royal Anthropological Institute Film Festival followed by Q&A.
  • 4-6/10/13. Consequences (Dir. Timothy Cooper and Abeera Arif-Bashir, 2013, 15 mins), SuperlativeTV Pirated Analogue Broadcast, ART LICKS weekend.

Teaching Experience

Human Rights in British Politics (Semester Course) Univ. Paris Descartes Winter/Spring 2010
Maître de Langue (English Language Lectureship) Univ. Paris Descartes Winter/Spring 2010
Maître de Langue BTL Formation, Paris 2009 - 2010

Education History

August 2009

M.A. Cinema Cultures (Distinction)

King's College London
July 2008

B.A. Comparative Literature with Film Studies (Honours)

King's College London

Honours, Awards & 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.

Additional Information

2014 - present  Co-Host and Founder of Pirate Modernity on NTS Radio. Monthly radio programme on popular music from Afghanistan and North-western Pakistan. Reviews: 20142016, 2017