Public discussions of Asian American media representation are often overdetermined by narratives of the racial injury of Hollywood stereotypes, or what Black feminist Patricia Hill Collins called “controlling images.” But how have Asian American communities, performers, artists, and thinkers challenged and refigured those controlling images for their own purposes?
This panel brings together the authors of four new books in Asian American media and cultural studies to examine historical, ethnographic, feminist, transpacific, and queer of color approaches to this question. Beyond simply contributing to knowledge “about” Asian American subjects, each book shows us how Asian Americanist critique expands the possibilities of traditional disciplinary fields.
Sponsors: National Center for Institutional Diversity; Anti-Racism Collaborative; Diversity Scholars Network; University of Michigan Library; Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies Program; Department of Film, Television, and Media, Digital Studies Institute
Melissa Phruksachart is Assistant Professor of Film, TV, and Media at the University of Michigan. Her book in progress, Archives of Embarrassment: Making the Model Minority on Cold War U.S. Television, interrogates racial stereotypes that have been marked as bad objects, or “archives of embarrassment,” looking at the supporting roles, background parts, walk-ons, and other sundry acting jobs that produce non-stardom. Additional essays can be found in venues such as Film Quarterly, Camera Obscura, Feminist Media Studies, Amerasia Journal, and the Boston Review. She received her B.A. from Swarthmore College and her Ph.D. from the CUNY Graduate Center.
Denise Khor is associate professor of Asian American studies and visual studies at Northeastern University where she is jointly appointed in the Department of Culture, Societies and Global Studies and the Department of Art + Design. Her first book Transpacific Convergences: Race, Migration and Japanese American Film Culture before World War II (University of North Carolina Press, 2022) explores the historical experiences of Japanese Americans at the cinema and traces an alternative network of film production, circulation, and exhibition. Her work has appeared in Film Quarterly, Pacific Historical Review, Southern California Quarterly, and The Rising Tide of Color: Race, State Violence, and Radical Movements Across the Pacific (edited by Moon Ho-Jung, 2014), among other publications. In 2019-2020, she was faculty fellow at Harvard University’s Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History.
Vivian L. Huang specializes in race and performance in the Department of Communication Studies at San Francisco State University. Vivian's recent book, Surface Relations: Queer Forms of Asian American Inscrutability, theorizes racial aesthetics and affects of obfuscation in contemporary performance, visual art, and literature. Surface Relations was awarded the Duke University Press Scholars of Color First Book Prize and is a finalist for the LGBTQ+ Studies Lambda Literary Award. Vivian’s peer-reviewed articles can be found in the Journal of Asian American Studies, Diacritics, Women & Performance, and the Journal of Popular Culture.
Mila Zuo is an assistant professor in the Department of Theatre and Film at UBC. Her research areas span transnational Asian cinemas; film-philosophy; abject epistemologies; star studies; digital and new media; and critical theories of gender, sexuality, and race and ethnicity. Her book Vulgar Beauty: Acting Chinese in the Global Sensorium (Duke University Press, 2022) focuses on the affective racialization of Chinese women film stars, demonstrating the ways which vulgar, flavourful beauty disrupts Western and colonial notions of beauty. In addition to her scholarly work, Zuo writes, directs, and produces award-winning narrative films, visual essays, documentaries, and music videos, including Carnal Orient (2016) and Kin (2021).
Lori Kido Lopez is Professor of Communication Arts and Director of the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has published many books on the subject of race and media, including Asian American Media Activism: Fighting for Cultural Citizenship, Race and Media: Critical Approaches, and Micro Media Industries: Hmong American Media Innovation in the Diaspora. Her research examines the way that minority groups use media in the fight for social justice, particularly focusing on Asian American communities and media cultures.