Sunday, June 03, 2007

Cultural typhoon 2007, transnational identity

Cultural typhoon starts at the end of the month. My roundtable is on the 1st July.
Here's the outline of the roundtable.
For further details:

Transnational Identity

Transnational stardom of Zhang Ziyi and flexible (or imaginary) ethnic identity as ‘Asian’
LEE, Nikki J.Y.
This paper examines issues which involve a Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi’s ‘passing’ as a Japanese geisha in a recent Hollywood film Memoirs of a Geisha (2005). Not only Zhang Ziyi but also other Chinese actresses Gong Li and Michelle Yeoh who are familiar to American audiences also appeared as Japanese geisha in the film. Memoirs of a Geisha, as a novel and now a film, seems to register multiple instances of ‘cultural-crossing’ and also of negotiated cultural authenticity. Zhang Ziyi’s face (and body) becomes a recognizable and visible icon of ‘Asian’ face in the mainstream global popular culture, following the unprecedented success of Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Zhang Yimou’s Hero and House of Flying Daggers. Whilst Zhang’s geisha role is rather well accepted in Japan not causing so much discomfort and disdain, her taking this role was publicly blamed in China. Whereas Zhang’s face is identified as the face of ‘Asia’ in the mainstream popular imagination in the global scale, her inter-ethnic ‘passing’ seems to remediate contemporary configuration of the historical and political relationship between Japan and China. In this paper I will discuss the multifaceted layers of political and cultural implications of inter-ethnic (inter-Asian) ‘passing’ and whether transcending a give nationality is possible by acquiring transnational status like in Zhan Ziyi’s case. I will also analyze the strategy of a ‘global Hollywood’ film that attempts to constitute (fictional) cultural authenticity while re-configuring an ethnic category of ‘Asian’.

“Buzz Rickson’s Genuine Wear”: The cultural politics of reproduction vintage American military flight jackets in Japan
Hudson, Gillian
1940s and 1950s vintage clothing enthusiasts today find it harder and harder to find original garments which makes ‘reproductions’ a necessary part of any vintage style clothing market. One of the most highly regarded vintage repro specialists is the Buzz Rickson brand that faithfully reproduces 1940s and 1950s American military clothing. Not only the look, but the production process itself, aims to replicate the past and the involved research and development process has resulted in an exclusive product with an expensive market price.
The Buzz Rickson brand was born ten years ago in Japan when Toyo Enterprise Company Ltd secured an exclusive copyright deal with American military clothing manufacturers to re-make and sell these garments exclusively within Japan. Japanese flight enthusiasts, rockabillies, cyber-punks, and a variety of other subcultures and alternative fashion or anti-fashion enthusiasts appreciate and purchase these clothes and Buzz Rickson’s name has become internationally respected within such subcultures all over the world. Growing demand abroad has led to recent changes: Toyo can now export to America, have introduced larger sizes, and in 2006 Toyo produced its first bi-lingual catalogue. While it is still illegal to sell in other countries, there exists a thriving black market of buying and selling these goods on internet auctions across Europe and the rest of East Asia.
Toyo stands at a fascinating crossroads of issues of globalisation, niche marketing, nostalgia, and post-colonial complexity. Based on interviews with both Toyo representatives and Buzz Rickson consumers this paper aims to question what are the possible problematics of nostalgia for wartime and/or occupation eras? What is being celebrated in wearing a reproduction American military flight jacket? And what is the role of nationalism, consumption, and identity in these instances?

Taming the Hatred/Beloved Other: the Representation of the Otherness in commercials and entertainment programmes, the Korean Japanese case
This article tackles a recent phenomenon in Japanese medias, namely the presence of Korean actors in Japanese commercials and entertainment programmes. On the one hand, the presence of Asians in Japanese television used to be quite rare. On the other hand, this Korean presence may also be regarded as a positive externality of the hanryu (Korean wave) in Japan and as a assessment of the Korean soft power. Korean actors became familiar to the Japanese audience thanks to the diffusion of Korean dramas in Japan. Thus, the commercials and entertainment programmes studied in this article will also reflect the evolution of the perception of the Korean, from a despised foreigner to a familiar figure. This analysis considers advertising as a means of social change, paving the way for a more democratic and representative society in Japan. It will rely on the vision of television as an ‘instrument of social legitimating of representativeness’ (Missika and Wolton, 1983: 10). The article will use quantitative and qualitative approach. The quantitative approach leads to tackle the strategy of broadcasters through broadcasting timing analysis whereas the qualitative approach deals with a semiotic approach of the commercials, also inspired by reception theories coined by Morley (1992) and Ang(1996). First, the taming process will be analysed through the use and the representation of foreign language in commercials, fixing the otherness of the actors as well as taming it. Then, the tamed Other’s presence becomes progressively an institutionalised presence, through the role conveyed in commercials, as Ambassadors of their nation, or as spokesmen of very sensitive products in the national psyche.

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