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postgraduate thesis: Memories of becoming modern : Sinophone American cinemas of passing

TitleMemories of becoming modern : Sinophone American cinemas of passing
Authors
Issue Date2016
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Coe, J. G. [高傑森]. (2016). Memories of becoming modern : Sinophone American cinemas of passing. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5807308.
AbstractAbstract of thesis entitled “Memories of Becoming Modern: Sinophone American Cinemas of Passing” Submitted by Jason George Coe for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at The University of Hong Kong in April 2016 Sinophone American cinemas of passing bespeak the cultural production of local identities. To define passing as mere impersonation neglects how social engagement shapes subjectivity through embodied and contextualized cultural processes. As memories of becoming modern, cinemas of passing narrativize experiences of migration, settlement, and assimilation in global modernity. Utilizing theories of becoming and subjectification, I argue that passing is a collective process of subject formation through the interpretation and performance of identity narratives. Repudiating frameworks that maintain rigid identifiers, this study observes the immanent formation of cultural identities, whether of cinemas, people, or places, through globalization. Passing enables certain individuals to disrupt existing social conventions and gain social access but too often by underscoring the otherness of those less privileged. To observe the cultural production of identity signifiers, this framework challenges the pernicious notion of cultures as substances inheritable by birthright or geographic proximity – a modern masking of essentialist racialization. In articulating the cinematic affects that appropriate, disseminate, and transform identity, I side with anthropological views that cultural identities are themselves dynamic and historically specific praxis that arise from global modernity. With critical focus on passing and Sinophone American filmmaking within the context of 20th century migration, this study establishes cinemas of passing as an analytical frame. These cinemas register human experiences of global modernity. Focusing upon select Sinophone American cinemas, I divide that corpus into two affective modalities: melodrama and noir. Melodramas disseminate identities that appear traditional, a strategy that I term “passing as traditional,” in order to pull communities together. In contrast, films noir appropriate modern identities, a tactic that I term “passing as modern,” to evade social discipline. Nonetheless, whether passing as traditional or passing as modern, all of the cinemas observed in this study self-modernize by appropriating and reinventing narratives of identity. As modes for becoming modern, melodrama and noir enable cinemas of passing to influence group identification. By investigating different modes of passing in Sinophone American cinemas, this study critiques static paradigms of transnational cinemas. Substance-based identifiers engender reductive views of a homogenous Hollywood or European film culture, and imitations thereof, spreading around the world. Such arguments falsely assume that these cinemas either “authentically” represent the national or ethnic origin of their producers or signify the dialectical synthesis of two vaguely defined cinematic cultures in hybrid form, typically east meeting west. These frameworks read cultures in cinema, as opposed to reading cinemas culturally. Cinemas of passing obfuscate the limits of identification imposed upon people. Products of boundary-crossing subjects, Sinophone American cinemas of passing articulate varying degrees of freedom and permeability of borders. Negotiating and managing identities, these cinemas follow migratory flows through a stratified world. While proponents of neoliberalism argue that globalization opens markets and increases democratization, cinemas of passing demonstrate the hierarchical nature of this access and critique the persistent manifestation of effective barriers for those without proper identification. Recognizing that ambiguity and the privileges bestowed upon survivors and descendants of 20th century migration waves, this study traces cultural memories of becoming modern.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
SubjectGroup identity in art
Dept/ProgramComparative Literature
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/278544
HKU Library Item IDb5807308

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorCoe, Jason George-
dc.contributor.author高傑森-
dc.date.accessioned2019-10-18T05:30:21Z-
dc.date.available2019-10-18T05:30:21Z-
dc.date.issued2016-
dc.identifier.citationCoe, J. G. [高傑森]. (2016). Memories of becoming modern : Sinophone American cinemas of passing. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5807308.-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/278544-
dc.description.abstractAbstract of thesis entitled “Memories of Becoming Modern: Sinophone American Cinemas of Passing” Submitted by Jason George Coe for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at The University of Hong Kong in April 2016 Sinophone American cinemas of passing bespeak the cultural production of local identities. To define passing as mere impersonation neglects how social engagement shapes subjectivity through embodied and contextualized cultural processes. As memories of becoming modern, cinemas of passing narrativize experiences of migration, settlement, and assimilation in global modernity. Utilizing theories of becoming and subjectification, I argue that passing is a collective process of subject formation through the interpretation and performance of identity narratives. Repudiating frameworks that maintain rigid identifiers, this study observes the immanent formation of cultural identities, whether of cinemas, people, or places, through globalization. Passing enables certain individuals to disrupt existing social conventions and gain social access but too often by underscoring the otherness of those less privileged. To observe the cultural production of identity signifiers, this framework challenges the pernicious notion of cultures as substances inheritable by birthright or geographic proximity – a modern masking of essentialist racialization. In articulating the cinematic affects that appropriate, disseminate, and transform identity, I side with anthropological views that cultural identities are themselves dynamic and historically specific praxis that arise from global modernity. With critical focus on passing and Sinophone American filmmaking within the context of 20th century migration, this study establishes cinemas of passing as an analytical frame. These cinemas register human experiences of global modernity. Focusing upon select Sinophone American cinemas, I divide that corpus into two affective modalities: melodrama and noir. Melodramas disseminate identities that appear traditional, a strategy that I term “passing as traditional,” in order to pull communities together. In contrast, films noir appropriate modern identities, a tactic that I term “passing as modern,” to evade social discipline. Nonetheless, whether passing as traditional or passing as modern, all of the cinemas observed in this study self-modernize by appropriating and reinventing narratives of identity. As modes for becoming modern, melodrama and noir enable cinemas of passing to influence group identification. By investigating different modes of passing in Sinophone American cinemas, this study critiques static paradigms of transnational cinemas. Substance-based identifiers engender reductive views of a homogenous Hollywood or European film culture, and imitations thereof, spreading around the world. Such arguments falsely assume that these cinemas either “authentically” represent the national or ethnic origin of their producers or signify the dialectical synthesis of two vaguely defined cinematic cultures in hybrid form, typically east meeting west. These frameworks read cultures in cinema, as opposed to reading cinemas culturally. Cinemas of passing obfuscate the limits of identification imposed upon people. Products of boundary-crossing subjects, Sinophone American cinemas of passing articulate varying degrees of freedom and permeability of borders. Negotiating and managing identities, these cinemas follow migratory flows through a stratified world. While proponents of neoliberalism argue that globalization opens markets and increases democratization, cinemas of passing demonstrate the hierarchical nature of this access and critique the persistent manifestation of effective barriers for those without proper identification. Recognizing that ambiguity and the privileges bestowed upon survivors and descendants of 20th century migration waves, this study traces cultural memories of becoming modern. -
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.subject.lcshGroup identity in art-
dc.titleMemories of becoming modern : Sinophone American cinemas of passing-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb5807308-
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelDoctoral-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineComparative Literature-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.identifier.doi10.5353/th_b5807308-

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