Winter 2024

Hong Kong and Mumbai have in common a number of things, past and present. They are both cosmopolitan and culturally hybrid port cities that were once key locations in the British Empire. They are now both among the most important financial hubs in the world. They are, of course, also home to two of the most important, influential and popular film industries of the last 50 years and more. On this off-campus study program students will explore various cultural facets of both cities and study their representations in and contributions to film and literature.

Message from Faculty Director

Arnab Chakladar

My name is Arnab Chakladar and I am an Associate Professor of English. I joined Carleton in 2007. I am also a member and past director of the Asian Studies program. I was born and raised in India and came to the US in 1993 to begin graduate studies at the University of Southern California. Fittingly, my introduction to the US was via Los Angeles, home to Hollywood. A cinephile through and through, I was raised on popular Hindi cinema (also known as Bollywood) and also on popular American and British cinema. In Los Angeles I discovered a wider world of Hong Kong cinema than I had known in India. My doctorate is in literary studies but I have long had scholarly and teaching interests in film. Indeed, one of my favourite classes to teach at Carleton is titled “Bollywood Nation”.

As such, I am very excited to be leading this brand new program in Hong Kong and Mumbai. As a scholar and teacher of postcolonial literature and film I am naturally drawn to sites of cultural production that are outside the metropolitan centers of Europe and North America. Both the Hong Kong and Mumbai film industries are worlds in their own right and we will explore these worlds in the cities that these industries call home. We will also read contemporary Chinese and Hong Kong literature (in translation) and contemporary Indian literature (in English and in translation) set in the city of Mumbai.

We will spend the first five weeks of the program in Hong Kong and the second five weeks in Mumbai. In both parts of the program we will be immersed in the dizzying lives of these mega-cities, learning to traverse them and to read them. We will work with local scholars and film-makers and partake fully as well in the life of the cities.

This program will be best suited for students who are willing to step out of familiar cultural contexts and into new settings with an open mind and a zest for exploration. We will be in close, sometimes cramped quarters in cities where space is at a premium (and where the notion of personal space even in public is different from that in the US). Flexibility and the ability to play well with others will be crucial qualities. In both cities it is possible to get by with English and as such no prior knowledge of Cantonese, Hindi or Marathi is required.


Learning Goals

  • To examine the representation of Hong Kong and Mumbai in literature and film.
  • To learn about the history of the Hong Kong and Mumbai film industries and how they have shaped, and been shaped, by the history and cultural practices of their societies.
  • To learn about contemporary arts practices and cultural politics in Hong Kong and Mumbai.
  • To reflect critically on the networks of transmission and consumption of culture across the globe.
  • To challenge and expand our cultural, aesthetic, and personal values through exposure to new ideas, and environments.


Students must have sophomore, junior, or senior status in the 2023-24 academic year.

Course of Study

• Beyond Bollywood (3 credits)
• Mumbai Stories (3 credits)
• Writing Hong Kong/Seoul and Mumbai (6 credits)
• Hong Kong/Seoul in Film and Television (3 credits)
• Hong Kong/Seoul Fiction (3 credits)

Program Features


Students will stay in a variety of apartments, hotels and hostels.


Students will travel to and be based principally in Hong Kong/Seoul and Mumbai. In both cities there will be walking historical tours and visits to film studios, museums, markets and other sites of cultural significance. Day-trips to other nearby locations may also be featured. We will also partake of cooking lessons and explore the heterogeneous food cultures of the two cities.