Dr Richard MacDonald

Staff details

Position Senior Lecturer in Media and Communications, Senior Tutor
Email r.macdonald (@gold.ac.uk)
Phone +44 (0)20 79197636
Dr Richard MacDonald

I am the Senior Tutor for the Department of Media, Communications and Cultural Studies undergraduate joint degrees (BA Anthropology & Media, BA Media & English, BA Media & Sociology, BA History & Journalism) and BA Journalism.

I am the admissions tutor for the Department of Media, Communications and Cultural Studies postgraduate research programmes (MRes, MPhil/PhD).

I am the programme convenor for the MA Film and Screen Studies (autumn term) and also module convenor of Archaeology of the Moving Image (PG/UG) and Moving Image and Spectatorship (UG).

My office hours (PSH 226) are on Thursday 11am - 1pm.  

My teaching and research are concerned with understanding our relationship to media screens as material objects that produce spaces inviting diverse forms of collectivity and sociality. I focus on the informal circulation of moving images outside industrial-commercial institutions and explore these movements in relation to pedagogic, religious and aesthetic practices. My book The Appreciation of Film: The Film Society Movement and Film Study in Britain (University of Exeter Press) is a study of 16mm projectors, film clubs and the making of film culture in Britain which recuperates the marginalised civic cinephilia of volunteer film society activists whilst providing an alternative narrative of the emergence of film study in Britain. It was recently shortlisted for the 2017 Theatre Library Awards. I also research and write about personal photography, memory, place and urban change.
In 2014, I was awarded a Visiting Fellowship by the British Academy and ASEASUK to research itinerant film projection and animist ritual practice in Southeast Asia.

In September 2016, I commenced a 12-month collaboration funded by a British Academy Newton Mobility grant with colleagues at the Centre for Contemporary Social and Cultural Studies, Thammasat University, Bangkok. The project is titled: Mobile Media Practices in Everyday Life: Negotiating Commercial Infrastructures and State Control in Mainland Southeast Asia.

Academic qualifications

  • PhD Media & Communications (Goldsmiths, University of London)
  • MRes Cultural Studies and Humanities (London Consortium, University of London)
  • BSc Anthropology (Goldsmiths, University of London)

Areas of Supervision

I am interested in supervising MPhil/PhD students in any of the following areas

•    Film culture and historiography
•    Media apparatus and ritual practice
•    Photography, film and collective memory
•    Contemporary documentary film and video
•    Experimental moving image in Southeast Asia
•    Media infrastructures and urban life

Research Interests


British Academy Newton Mobility grant (co-applicant with Dr. Yukti Mukhdawijitra)

Sept 2016 – Sept 2017

Title: Mobile Media Practices in Everyday Life: Negotiating Commercial Infrastructures and State Control in Mainland Southeast Asia

Abstract: This project initiates a long-term partnership between the Centre for Contemporary Social and Cultural Studies at Thammasat University, Thailand, and the Media Ethnography Group at Goldsmiths, University of London. The aim of the partnership is to establish a strong international network, and to build the capacity of postgraduate and early career researchers, to advance new ethnographic methods and critical perspectives for researching the unpredictability of everyday mobile media practices in mainland Southeast Asia. The proposition unifying the project’s training and research exchange activities concerns the need to conceptualise mobile media and agency by researching people’s everyday negotiation of the contradictory realities of mobile media infrastructure. The partnership is an ideal context for developing methods attuned to the paradoxes of connectivity, particularly the ways that states in the region have sought to harness the economic promise of digital connectivity whilst simultaneously exercising control over the way in which their citizens use these communication tools.

British Academy/ASEASUK Visiting Fellowship (2014-15)
Title: Projecting for the Spirits: Film Projection as Ritual Offering in Thailand

Synopsis: Outside an urban network of multiplexes and purpose-built cinema venues a thriving alternative circuit exists in Thailand, across the rural Northeast of the country and in suburban Bangkok. Open-air film shows at sacred and communal sites, the grounds of Buddhist temples and local spirit shrines, are staged as an integral part of diverse ritual practices. The research project details the presentational repertoires that characterise these events and discusses the multiplicity of factors that shape them: the infrastructures of marginal film distribution, image projection and sound technologies and their skilled operation, and ideas of efficacy and auspiciousness informing ritual praxis. These presentational repertoires are understood as constructing ambivalently public occasions. They construct an aura of publicness through their choice of site and a preference for grand scale and volume: the large temporary screen erected on scaffolding, overwhelmingly immersive sonic volume and high-resolution image quality, but their primary address is to supernatural beings rather than a (human) public. As such this is a mode of film exhibition that complicates our notion of the intrinsic sociality of film projection by channelling these properties towards practices of religious mediation.



MacDonald, Richard. 2016. The Appreciation of Film: The Postwar Film Society Movement and Film Culture in Britain. Exeter: University of Exeter Press. ISBN 9780859898881

Book Section

MacDonald, Richard L. 2020. Film Projection and the Sacred Geography of Site-Specific Cinema in Contemporary Thailand. In: Virginia Crisp and Gabriel Menotti, eds. Practices of Projection. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780190934125

MacDonald, Richard. 2018. A place for memory: Family photo collections, social media and the imaginative reconstruction of the working class neighbourhood. In: Silke Arnold-de Simine and Joanna Leal, eds. Picturing the Family: Media, Narrative, Memory. London: Bloomsbury, pp. 151-170. ISBN 9781474283601

MacDonald, Richard. 2017. The Rise of the Film Society Movement. In: I. Q. Hunter; Laraine Porter and Justin Smith, eds. The Routledge Companion to British Cinema. London: Routledge, pp. 109-118. ISBN 978-0-415-70619-3

MacDonald, Richard. 2014. The Vanguard of Film Appreciation: The Film Society Movement and Film Culture, 1945-1965. In: Geoffrey Nowell-Smith and Christophe Dupin, eds. The British Film Institute, the Government and Film Culture, 1933-2000. Manchester: Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0719095740

MacDonald, Richard and Ingawanij, May Adadol. 2010. ‘Blissfully Whose? Jungle Pleasure, Ultra-Modernist Cinema and the Cosmopolitan Thai Auteur,’. In: Rachel Harrison and Peter Jackson, eds. The Ambiguous Allure of the West: Traces of the Colonial in Thailand. Southeast Asia Program Publications, Cornell University. ISBN 978-0877276081


MacDonald, Richard and Songkhunatham, Peera. 2021. Conjuring the People: Entrepreneurial Localism and the Case of the Khon Kaen Model. Way Magazine,

MacDonald, Richard L. 2017. Projecting Films to Spirits: on shrines as conjunctural space and the ritual economy of outdoor cinema in Bangkok. Visual Anthropology Review, 33(2), pp. 152-163. ISSN 1058-7187

MacDonald, Richard. 2016. Elevating the Film Review: Critics and Critical Practice at the Monthly Film Bulletin. Film Studies, 14(1), pp. 93-111. ISSN 1469-0314

MacDonald, Richard. 2015. “Going Back in a Heartbeat”: Collective memory and the online circulation of family photographs. Photographies, 8(1), pp. 23-42. ISSN 1754-0763

MacDonald, Richard; Couldry, Nick and Dickens, Luke. 2015. Digitisation and Materiality: Researching Community Memory Practice Today. The Sociological Review, 63(1), pp. 102-120. ISSN 1467-954X

MacDonald, Richard; Couldry, Nick; Stephansen, Hilde and Clark, Wilma. 2015. Digital platforms and narrative exchange: hidden constraints, emerging agency. New Media and Society, 17(6), pp. 919-938. ISSN 1461-4448

MacDonald, Richard and Dickens, Luke. 2015. “‘I can do things here I can’t do in my own life”: The making of a civic archive at the Salford Lads’ Club’. ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies, 14(2),

Couldry, Nick; Stephansen, Hilde; Fotopoulou, Aristea; MacDonald, Richard; Clark, William and Dickens, Luke. 2014. Digital citizenship? Narrative exchange and the changing terms of civic culture. Citizenship Studies, 18(6-7), pp. 615-629. ISSN 1362-1025

MacDonald, Richard; Couldry, Nick and Stephansen, Hilde. 2014. Constructing a Digital Storycircle: Digital Infrastructure and Mutual Recognition. International Journal of Cultural Studies, ISSN 1367-8779

MacDonald, Richard. 2014. Film Appreciation and Cultural Leadership: Rudolf Arnheim, Roger Manvell and Two Books Called Film. Canadian Journal of Film Studies, 23(1),

MacDonald, Richard. 2013. Book review of Expanded Cinema: Art, Film, Performance. Moving Image Review and Art Journal, 2(1), ISSN 20456298

MacDonald, Richard. 2013. Evasive Enlightenment: World Without End and the Internationalism of Postwar Documentary. Journal of British Cinema and Television, 10(3), pp. 452-474. ISSN 1743-4521

MacDonald, Richard and Stollery, Martin. 2011. Interview with Dai Vaughan: “Between a Word and a Thing/You Encounter Only Yourself". Journal of British Film and Television, 8(3), pp. 430-446. ISSN 1743-4521


MacDonald, Richard and Stollery, Martin. 2012. For Documentary: Remembering Dai Vaughan.