From Fu Manchu to Kung Fu Panda: Images of China in American Film

GreeneCOVER1.inddThroughout the twentieth century, American filmmakers have embraced cinematic representations of China. Beginning with D.W. Griffith’s silent classic Broken Blossoms (1919) and ending with the computer-animated Kung Fu Panda (2008), author Naomi Greene explores China’s changing role in the American imagination. Taking viewers into zones that frequently resist logical expression or more orthodox historical investigation, the films suggest the welter of intense and conflicting impulses that have surrounded China. They make clear that China has often served as the very embodiment of “otherness”—a kind of yardstick or cloudy mirror of America itself. It is a mirror that reflects not only how Americans see the racial “other” but also a larger landscape of racial, sexual, and political perceptions that touch on the ways in which the nation envisions itself and its role in the world.

In the United States, the exceptional emotional charge that imbues images of China has tended to swing violently from positive to negative and back again: China has been loved and—as is generally the case today—feared. Using film to trace these dramatic fluctuations, From Fu Manchu to Kung Fu Panda relates them to the larger arc of historical and political change. Suggesting that filmic images both reflect and fuel broader social and cultural impulses, the author argues that they reveal a constant tension or dialectic between the “self” and the “other.” Significantly, with the important exception of films made by Chinese or Chinese American directors, the Chinese other is almost invariably portrayed in terms of the American self. Placed in a broader context, this ethnocentrism is related both to an ever-present sense of American exceptionalism and to a Manichean world view that perceives other countries as friends or enemies.

Greene analyzes a series of influential films, including classics like Shanghai Express (1932), The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933), The Good Earth (1936), and Shanghai Gesture (1941); important cold war films such as The Manchurian Candidate (1962) and The Sand Pebbles (1966); and a range of contemporary films, including Chan is Missing (1982), The Wedding Banquet (1993), Kundun (1997), Mulan (1998), and Shanghai Noon (2000). The author’s consideration makes clear that while many stereotypes and racist images of the past have been largely banished from the screen, the political, cultural, and social impulses they embodied are still alive and well.

Written by Naomi Greene

2014 | 280 pages | 31 illustrations
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8248-3836-2 | $25.00
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8248-3835-5 | $65.00

Critical Interventions Series

Tsai Ming-Liang and a Cinema of Slowness

LimHow can we qualify slowness in cinema? What is the relationship between a cinema of slowness and a wider sociocultural “slow movement”? A body of films that shares a propensity toward slowness has emerged in many parts of the world over the past two decades. This is the first book to examine the concept of cinematic slowness and address this fascinating phenomenon in contemporary film culture. 

Providing a critical investigation into questions of temporality, materiality, and aesthetics, and examining concepts of authorship, cinephilia, and nostalgia, Song Hwee Lim offers insight into cinematic slowness through the films of the Malaysian-born, Taiwan-based director Tsai Ming-liang. Through detailed analysis of aspects of stillness and silence in cinema, Lim delineates the strategies by which slowness in film can be constructed. By drawing on writings on cinephilia and the films of directors such as Abbas Kiarostami, Hou Hsiao-hsien, and Nuri Bilge Ceylan, he makes a passionate case for a slow cinema that calls for renewed attention to the image and to the experience of time in film. 

Tsai Ming-liang and a Cinema of Slowness will speak to readers with an interest in art cinema, queer studies, East Asian culture, and the question of time. In an age of unrelenting acceleration of pace both in film and in life, this book invites us to pause and listen, to linger and look, and, above all, to take things slowly. 

Written by Song Hwee Lim
2014 | 240 pages | 29 illustrations
ISBN: 978-0-8248-3684-9 | $45.00s | Cloth

Association for Asian American Studies Conference in San Francisco and the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association Conference in Chicago

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University of Hawai‘i Press is exhibiting at two conferences this week, showcasing new and recent titles from our Spring catalog as well as our Asian Studies catalog.

In San Francisco from April 16-19 at the Grand Hyatt for the Association for Asian American Studies Conference, acquisitions editor Masako Ikeda will be available to meet with prospective authors.

In Chicago, editor Stephanie Chun will be at the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association Conference from April 16-19 at the Marriott Chicago.

Some titles to look out for at both meetings: From Fu Manchu to Kung Fu Panda: Images of China in American FilmScrutinized!: Surveillance in Asian North American Literature, Dubious Gastronomy: The Culture Politics of Eating Asian in the USA, and Capturing Contemporary Japan: Differentiation and Uncertainty.

Please visit us to see our latest titles and take advantage of the conference offer of a 20% discount and free shipping in the U.S. Free shipping applies only to orders received or placed at the conference.

The Value of Hawai‘i 2 Launches New Volume with Community Events

The Value of Hawai'i 2Continuing the conversations started in the first volume of this series, The Value of Hawai‘i 2: Ancestral Roots, Oceanic Visions offers passionate and poignant visions for the future of Hawai‘i. The fresh voices gathered in this collection of essays, poetry, and art share their inspiring work and ideas for protecting and creating wai wai, value, for coming generations. The volume editors, Aiko Yamashiro and Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻōpua, together with over forty contributors, address a wide range of topics: community health, agriculture, public education, local business, energy, gender, rural lifestyles, sacred community, activism, storytelling, migration, voyaging, visual art, music, and the ‘āina. By exploring connections to those who have come before and those who will follow after, the contributors to this volume re-center Hawai‘i in our watery Pacific world.

Please come out to support these visions at planned community events cosponsored by UHM Center for Biographical Research and the Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities. The first events start tonight with a collaboration with an exciting contemporary art exhibition, CONTACT. All discussion events are free and will take place at the Front Lawn at Honolulu Museum of Art School at Linekona, 1111 Victoria Street. Click here for the CONTACT events program.

Friday, April 11, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Jamaica Osorio – Gender in the Arts

Tuesday, April 15, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Cade Watanabe – Labor and the Arts

Wednesday, April 16, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Mark Kāwika Patterson – Prisons and Sanctuaries

Thursday, April 17 –  CANCELLED -TVoH2-BookLaunch_4-23-2014
Sania Fa’amaile Betty P. Ickes – Oceanic Connections

Monday, April 21, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Joseph Keawe’aimoku Kaholokula – Health and Inequality

Other events scheduled so far:

Wednesday, April 23, 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Join us at the Book Launch celebration at UHM Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies.

Saturday, May 3, 9:30 am – 2:00 pm
Hawai‘i Book & Music Festival
A series of panels will be held at the Authors Pavilion Mauka. Click here for the festival event schedule.

Keep up with more information about the book and upcoming events on The Value of Hawai‘i website and Facebook page; follow @valuehawaii for Twitter updates.

The Hermit’s Hut: Architecture and Asceticism in India

Ashraf-Hermit'sHutAlthough architecture continually responds to ascetic compulsions, as in its frequent encounter with the question of excess and less, it is typically considered separate from asceticism. In contrast, The Hermit’s Hut offers original insight and explores the rich and mutual ways in which asceticism and architecture are played out in each other’s practices. Relying primarily on Buddhist materials, author Kazi K. Ashraf provides a complex narrative that stems from the simple structure of the hermit’s hut, showing how the significance of the hut resonates widely and how the question of dwelling is central to ascetic imagination. In exploring the conjunctions of architecture and asceticism, he breaks new ground by presenting ascetic practice as fundamentally an architectural project, namely the fabrication of a “last” hut.

This innovative book weaves together the fields of architecture, anthropology, religion, and philosophy to offer multidisciplinary and historical insights. It will appeal to readers with diverse interests and in a variety of disciplines—whether one is interested in the history of ascetic architecture in India, the concept of “home” in ancient India, or the theme of the body as building.

November 2013 | 240 pages | 105 illustrations
ISBN: 978-0-8248-3583-5 | $50.00 | Cloth

Spatial Habitus: Making and Meaning in Asia’s Architecture