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History and Geography

Profile Information

James M. Burns

James M. Burns

Professor and Director of the Humanities Hub

Department of History
Office: Hardin Hall 127
Phone: 864-656-5373

Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara (1998)


Africa, British Empire, History of Cinema

Professor Burns is a specialist in African history, British Imperial history, and the Social history of film. His essay ‘The African Bioscope--Cinema and culture in the Colonial City’ (2005) was republished last year in a special issue of Black Camera celebrating the past thirty years of cinema scholarship in Africa. His recent publications include ‘Cinema-going in the South Asian Diaspora: Indian films, entrepreneurs and audiences in Port-of-Spain Trinidad and Durban, South Africa’ in comparing New Cinema Histories for Palgrave/Macmillan’s series on Global Cinemas, (forthcoming), ‘Comparing historical cinema cultures: The case of the British West Indies’ in The Journal for Media History (Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis) October 2020, ‘Cinema in Tanzania’ in The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History 2021, ‘The Global Reach of the New Cinema History’ American Historical Review October 2020, and ‘Cinema and Television’ in The Oxford Bibliography of African Studies 2019. He is the author of several books, including Flickering Shadows: Cinema and Identity in Colonial Zimbabwe, named by Choice magazine as one of its Outstanding Academic Titles for 2002, and A History of Sub-Saharan Africa, which he co-authored with Robert O. Collins. (Cambridge University Press, 2007, 2nd edition 2013) His most recent monograph Cinema and Society in the British Empire, 1895-1940, was published by Palgrave/Macmillan in 2013.

He is currently working on a study of the circulation of Bollywood films among South Asian communities across Britain’s former empire.

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