The Institute for Research on Women
and the Center for European Studies

The Postcolonial Cultural Industry:
Film adaptations and postcolonial chick lit

Sandra Ponzanesi


Head of Humanities
University College
Utrecht University · Netherlands


Thursday, October 23, 2014

12:15 – 1:30pm

Ruth Dill Johnson Crockett
Conference Room
162 Ryders Lane, Douglass Campus

This talk offers a new interpretation of postcolonial studies by unpacking its relation to the cultural industry. It argues that postcolonial artifacts are not just aesthetic objects, or pure disposable commodities, but “practices” that engage the local and the global in specific ways. While taking inspiration from Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer’s critical notion of the culture industry, the talk engages with a more lively and controversial understanding of the postcolonial cultural industry as a site of co-production as well as conflict between producers and consumers, marketing experts, readers and audiences. It will focus on two exemplary phenomena: a) the film industry and how it contributes to the marketing of postcolonial texts through film adaptations, e.g., The English Patient by Anthony Minghella (2006) from a novel by Michael Ondaatje; Trishna by Michael Winterbottom (2011), inspired by Thomas Hardy’s classic Tess of the D’Urbervilles; and b) ethnic feminist bestsellers, the so-called desi chick lit, e. g., The Village Bride of Beverly Hills by Kavita Daswani, Anita: A Quest for Love in the New India by Anita Jain, and their re-articulation of race, ethnicity, class, affect, and embodiment in local and global contexts. By connecting cultural analysis to marketing strategies and theories of globalization, the talk will situate the “postcolonial cultural industry” as a critical intervention into the operations of the global marketplace and their contestation.

Sandra Ponzanesi is a gender studies scholar at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands whose work focuses on the cinema of migration, cultural studies, and postcolonial Europe.

Lunch will be served.
Please RSVP by 12 noon on Monday, October 20 to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The Institute for Research on Women advances innovative feminist scholarship on women, gender, and sexuality



9:00 pm, Wednesday, October 22,2014

Film screening
and discussion with the Director

Kisses to the Children
Director, Vassellis Loules

Van Dyck Hall, Room 211
College Avenue Campus