e-Duke Books

Identities in Motion:

Asian American Film and Video

By Peter X Feng

This innovative book shows how Asian American filmmakers and videomakers frame and are framed by history—how they define and are defined by cinematic projections of Asian American identity. Combining close readings of films and videos, sophisticated cultural analyses, and detailed production histories that reveal the complex forces at play in the making and distributing of these movies, Identities in Motion offers an illuminating interpretative framework for assessing the extraordinary range of Asian American films produced in North America.

Peter X Feng considers a wide range of works—from genres such as detective films to romantic comedies to ethnographic films, documentaries, avant-garde videos, newsreels, travelogues, and even home movies. Feng begins by examining movies about three crucial moments that defined the American nation and the roles of Asian Americans within it: the arrival of Chinese and Japanese women in the American West and Hawai’i; the incorporation of the Philippines into the U.S. empire; and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. In subsequent chapters Feng discusses cinematic depictions of ideological conflicts among Asian Americans and of the complex forces that compel migration, extending his nuanced analysis of the intersections of sexuality, ethnicity, and nationalist movements.

Identities in Motion illuminates the fluidity of Asian American identities, expressing the diversity and complexity of Asian Americans—including Filipinos, Indonesians, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Laotians, Indians, and Koreans—from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century.

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