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Cinema and Media Studies Race and Cinema
by
Diane Negra, Zélie Asava

Introduction

Because of the influence that American cinema has had on ideas of race globally, both as film representations and as sociocultural concerns, and in keeping with the large output of its film industry and of American academic writing on issues of race in film studies, American films and film studies will form the central focus of this examination. Because the black/white binary defines the history of US racial discourse, this bibliography will centralize this binary and consider other racial groups (under terms constructed according to American discourse, using “black” as an umbrella term) in relation to black/white screen politics. Critical race theory has proven race to be a construction, yet racism remains a part of lived experience and racial stereotypes frequently recur even in an era marked by discourses of race transcendence and “postracial” cultural celebration. Hollywood can be read as an ethnographer, reinforcing the hegemony of whiteness onscreen by producing experiences of the black racial types it creates. Representations of blackness in early and silent cinema were largely characterized by the ideology of a landmark 1915 film Birth of a Nation, which would form the template (textually, visually, and in many ways, thematically) for filmmaking that followed. This film centers on racial politics and supports a white supremacist standpoint; here (as in most Hollywood films until the civil rights era), black men were loyal chattel or aggressive “Bucks,” black women were fat, caring housekeepers, and mixed-race women were tragic, disturbed beauties (see Bogle 2001 and Gaines 2001, both cited under Screening Blackness; Courtney 2005, cited under Casting and Representation). The American film industry has produced many distorted representations that have positioned screen characters as “Other” because of their designation as nonnormative (whether black, gay, etc.). In such ways, both visually and narratologically, film codes can position the Other as inferior to the white (male) hero, even where a superficial egalitarianism might seem to prevail (e.g., the “buddy movie,” where black men play foil to their white hero partner). Very recent cinematic productions, such as The Help (2011), deploy race knowledgeably but still problematically. Thus films may both deny and recognize the notion of race as visible given that social and cinematic language still uses “race” as a social framework. In fact, while it has been established that there is no biological basis for the idea of race, notions of racial difference are routinely dramatized by filmmakers and expressed through film and visual media technology.

Casting and Representation

A 2007 study by the UCLA School of Law and UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center found that Latino, African American, Asian American, and Native American actors have few acting opportunities available to them. It suggested that 69 percent of roles were reserved for white actors and another 8.5 percent were open to white actors as well as nonwhite actors. Nonwhite actors were limited to between 0.5 percent and about 8 percent of the roles, depending on their racial background. Thus nonwhite actors continue to be marginalized and cast according to largely denigrating racial types (e.g., black man as criminal, Native American as savage—see Miller 1980, Aleiss 2009). The study also found that American cinema remains deeply patriarchal and centered on white masculine heroes. In a content analysis of major films, men were almost three times as likely as women to work in the first-billed lead role. Women made up 44 percent of second-billed roles and 40 percent of third-billed roles, but were outnumbered by men in each category. Due to institutional and cultural sexism, filmmakers still privilege male characters and limit female roles. Thus nonwhite female actors continue to be the most marginalized within the system. Scherr 2008 claims that even films that appear to pose a challenge to dominant representations of identity “do not successfully confront the implicit whiteness of U.S. cinema” (p. 3). Courtney 2005 says that it is imperative to interrogate this cinema’s “history of white vision” (p. 4) (see also Davies and Smith 2000, Bernardi 2007). (References to whiteness as a hegemonic structure are expanded upon in the section titled White.) Hence contemporary references to the miscegenation taboo in films such as Hancock (2008), where races are positioned as incompatible and interracial romance is rejected in favor of racially homogenous unions. As Robinson 2006 observes, casting breakdowns prove that the cinema industry is subject to extreme racial and sexual discrimination. As Shohat and Stam 1994 notes, fictional identities are creative ventures, and so casting can be seen as unimportant. But casting must be seen “in contingent terms, in relation to the role, the political and esthetic intention, and to the historical moment” (p. 191). Hamilton and Block 2003 explores the history of racial representation in American cinema, while Davies and Smith 2000 considers contemporary issues.

  • Aleiss, Angela. Making the White Man’s Indian: Native Americans and Hollywood Movies. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2009.

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    Aleiss examines the history of Native American representation onscreen, examining the positive and negative stereotypes that have emerged across a range of films. She finds that Native Americans have been positioned as sympathetic more than savage/tragic and explores the contradictions of race onscreen with reference to primary sources.

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  • Bernardi, Daniel, ed. The Persistence of Whiteness: Race and Contemporary Hollywood Cinema. London: Routledge, 2007.

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    In this collection, scholars explore the role that narratives of race and ethnicity have played in Hollywood representations, also considering the role of class, gender, and sexuality. Scholars explore these discourses across a range of genres, styles, and stars of American filmmaking.

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  • Courtney, Susan. Hollywood Fantasies of Miscegenation: Spectacular Narratives of Gender and Race. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005.

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    Courtney’s comprehensive analysis of interracial relationships onscreen unpacks ideas of whiteness in order to establish how historical visualizations of blackness manifested insecurity and undermined narratives of equality. She notes a continuing degree of resistance to change; many films appear to renounce the miscegenation taboo yet reassert it and other classical Hollywood stereotypes (e.g., Guess Who, a 2005 remake of miscegenation classic Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner).

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  • Davies, Jude, and Carol R. Smith. Gender, Ethnicity and Sexuality in Contemporary American Film. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2000.

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    Considering how screen representations of race are reflective of political and cultural attitudes toward multiculturalism, this work on identity politics explores contemporary representations of race and ethnicity in American cinema.

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  • Hamilton, Marsha J., and Eleanor S. Block. Projecting Ethnicity and Race: An Annotated Bibliography of Studies on Imagery in American Film. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003.

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    In this bibliography, Hamilton and Block review nearly five hundred books, essays, reference works, and book chapters on American cinema published between 1915 and 2001 that focus on racial, ethnic, and national representations on film.

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  • Miller, Randall M., ed. The Kaleidoscopic Lens: How Hollywood Views Ethnic Groups. Englewood, NJ: Jerome S. Ozer, 1980.

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    In this collection a range of scholars examine Hollywood as ethnographer of various racial and ethnic groups exploring Irish, Jewish, Hispanic, Italian, Slavic, Asian, German, Indian, and black representations in American film.

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  • Robinson, Russell Hollywood’s Race/Ethnicity and Gender-Based Casting: Prospects for a Title VII Lawsuit. Latino Policy and Issues Brief 14. UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, 2006.

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    The study finds that the absence of a balanced casting system denies minority groups a substantial voice in the cinematic sphere and leads to distorted representations onscreen.

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  • Scherr, Rebecca. “(Not) Queering White Vision.” Jump Cut 50 (2008): 1–19.

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    In this analysis of racial, sexual, and gender representation, Scherr challenges what she calls the “implicit [heterosexual] whiteness” of American cinematic vision, showing how it structures both the study and production of film and representations of identity politics.

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  • Shohat, Ella, and Robert Stam. Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media. New York: Routledge, 1994.

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    This theoretical analysis of multiculturalism and the media explores all aspects of racial imaging and colonial discourse from an historical and contemporary context. Taking a post-structuralist approach, Shohat and Stam explore the possibilities of polycentrism, new forms of representation, and new esthetic and identity politics coming from the cinemas of the developing world.

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Racial Positioning

From the 1910s to late 1940s there was a strong black film industry—its most famous director being Oscar Micheaux—which made “race movies” for black communities, but the industry was gradually eroded by the introduction of sound, competition from major studios, the Depression, and finally World War II (see Gevinson 1997). Bernardi 2001 and Bernardi 1996 explore the history of race relations onscreen in American cinema. While the short-lived but successful “race movies” movement was unique to America’s sociopolitical climate, other national industries offered (smaller but) more enduring opportunities. In order to consider Hollywood’s relationship to global cinema, it is first necessary to examine how race relations (and representations) evolved in other contexts (see also Beur). Due to its differing historico-political positioning, France became home to many black/mixed American artists fleeing segregation and oppression; Josephine Baker became a film star in 1930s Paris (see Rony 1996). African American filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles trained in France to escape America’s inequalities, returning in 1967 with La Permission (The Story of a Three Day Pass), a film featuring a romance between an African American soldier (stationed in France) and a white woman, heralding, like the better known Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner of that same year, the decriminalization of interracial marriage in the United States in 1967. As have the arts more broadly, American cinema has often linked stories of racial mixing to Louisiana and the French/Creole communities in the former French colonies there, or indeed to France. The South is an important political space in American history, not only as a central locus of wealth and symbol of patriarchy for white America but also as the focal point of mixed-race power. These days, the South is largely synonymous with the history of segregation and overt discrimination. The national deniability of US racism seems often to depend on pigeonholing the South as inevitably racist. Yet, the South is also an interracial space—as sensationalized on TV in True Blood (2008–), which represents it as a conservative locale filled with covert and often perverse (here, vampiric) desires. McPherson 2003 explores the South as a paradoxical space of antiracial and cross-racial politics and questions its representation on film, while Graham 2003 examines how its TV screen visualizations frame ideas of race and gender.

  • Bernardi, Daniel, ed. The Birth of Whiteness: Race and the Emergence of United States Cinema. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1996.

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    Bernardi’s collection examines the ways in which cinema emerged with and reinforced historical racial practices, acting to inform and endorse American cultural practices in regard to race and ethnicity.

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  • Bernardi, Daniel, ed. Classic Hollywood, Classic Whiteness. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001.

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    Scholars address the role of whiteness in the history of racial and ethnic representations onscreen, considering how cinema has been shaped by institutional politics of race. The essays examine how classic cinema was influenced by theories of segregation and assimilation, which would be radically changed by the cultural impact of the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

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  • Gevinson, Alan, ed. Within Our Gates: Ethnicity in American Feature Films, 1911–1960. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.

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    This cinematic encyclopedia catalogues ethnic and racial representations in films produced over fifty years of American cinema and provides a very useful resource in its thorough account of each film.

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  • Graham, Allison. Framing the South: Hollywood, Television, and Race during the Civil Rights Struggle. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2003.

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    Graham analyzes screen representations of the South from the 1950s on, examining the visibility of racism in fictional narratives on TV and in the cinema, and the political significance of media coverage of civil rights demonstrations.

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  • McPherson, Tara. Reconstructing Dixie: Race, Gender, and Nostalgia in the Imagined South. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003.

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    McPherson explores representations of the South and how discursive constructions based on cultural concepts of the region operate in popular culture from the 1930s to the early 2000s.

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  • Rony, Fatimah Tobing. The Third Eye: Race, Cinema, and Ethnographic Spectacle. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996.

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    Tobing examines the history of ethnographic spectacle in the West and how this corresponds to histories of American filmmaking and screen representations of race and ethnicity. She examines how these images have been shaped by racial discourses (with reference to Frantz Fanon), considering also, those who, like Josephine Baker, created careers through resistance.

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Screening Blackness

As Bogle 2001 notes, lobbying by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the popularity of certain stock black characters with white audiences (e.g., Mantan Moreland or Stepin Fetchit), and the rise of the “black dollar” (as evidenced by the success of “race movies,” i.e., 1910–1940s all-black films for black audiences) encouraged the film studios to give black and mixed-race characters more dramatic and significant roles in mainstream films, as well as making them the leads of all-black musicals (as explored by Knight 2002) and cultivating the first mixed/black stars: Nina Mae McKinney, Fredi Washington, and later, Lena Horne and Dorothy Dandridge. From the 1930s on, mainstream attitudes toward racial representations, as well as salaries and roles for black actors in Hollywood, began to change. As Gaines 2001, Courtney 2005 (cited under Casting and Representation), and Bost 2005 attest, the civil rights era’s legal and social shifts compelled TV and film to produce more positive representations of mixedness and blackness. However, many stereotypes still remained, fueled by the dominance of whites in the industry, prevailing social and professional racism, and the perceived desires of the white audience. Still, the civil rights movement brought black/mixed-race people to the forefront of the public sphere and the industry began to take note, seeing the potential for profit in a new market (as embodied by the decision to promote Sidney Poitier as a star). In the 1980s, films such as Spike Lee’s 1986 She’s Gotta Have It, 1988’s School Daze, and 1989’s Do The Right Thing reinvigorated and diversified black cinema, signifying new attitudes to race in filmmaking. While many of the Hood films (i.e., those focused on black, ghettoized, urban communities, notably 1991’s Boyz in the Hood, 1993’s Menace II Society, and Mario Van Peebles’s 1991 New Jack City) and their filmmakers deserve mention, and while many other black filmmakers have since risen to prominence (e.g., Tyler Perry, owner of Tyler Perry Studios, whose production company made the 2009 Oscar-winning film Precious), Lee is an exemplary case of a black auteur. While he started out making black films, he now makes films featuring a range of leads, including white male heroes. Yet his films remain resolutely questioning and rooted in New York’s diverse urban culture. His success and longevity as an African American filmmaker are unparalleled. Friedman 1991 explores issues of multiculturalism and representations of blackness onscreen.

  • Bogle, Donald. Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies and Bucks: An Interpretative History of Blacks in American Film. 4th ed. New York: Continuum, 2001.

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    In the first of Bogle’s many books on black figures in American cinema, he deconstructs official histories to explore the position of black actors, filmmakers, and films. His inventory approach, designed to illuminate the integration of black agents in this key aspect of American culture from its earliest days, would become a characteristic style of his later works.

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  • Bost, Suzanne. Mulattas and Mestizas: Representing Mixed Identities in the Americas, 1850–2000. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2005.

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    Bost examines the history of race, sex, and hybrid identities in American culture, noting that, while mixed identities are often viewed as signifiers of a new America, they are in fact central to its history. Bost also explores how political discourse uses mixed narratives to justify segregation. Her analysis of historical paradigms informs contemporary discourse on racial mixing.

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  • Friedman, Lester. Unspeakable Images: Ethnicity and the American Cinema. Urbana: Illinois University Press, 1991.

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    In this anthology, scholars consider the ways in which race and ethnicity have been depicted onscreen in American cinema and how these images have affected cultural representations and concepts.

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  • Gaines, Jane. Fire and Desire: Mixed-Race Movies in the Silent Era. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001.

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    Gaines examines the possibilities of racial mixing in the early days of cinema, contextualizing a set of silent films within contemporary cultural moments (particularly the rise of the black middle class), and questioning our reception of those images and their influence on modern cinema.

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  • Knight, Arthur. Disintegrating the Musical: Black Performance and American Musical Film. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002.

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    Knight explores the history of black performers in the genre, looking at segregation, minstrelsy, jazz, and the social and cultural positioning that placed the first black film stars in musical films.

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Black

Since the explosion of racial studies in the 1970s many scholars have analyzed the history of black cinema and of black stereotypes in the (white) media. Bogle 2001 (cited under Screening Blackness) is a pioneering work that documented the emergence of black and mixed-race characters in cinema and noted the roots of their stereotyping in vaudeville and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which featured “Uncle Tom,” “pickanninies” (black children), “Mammy,” the “happy darky” or “coon,” and the “tragic mulatta.” Film adaptations of Stowe’s novel were major texts in early American cinema; the first of twelve films based on it was directed by Siegmund Lubin in 1903. Bogle’s work has continued to revise the history of cinema by detailing and listing films with black/mixed characters or themes, thereby reconstructing film history (see Bogle 2005). Diawara 1993, a landmark collection, explores the positioning of black cinema, while Guerrero 1993 examines the construction of social types on film. Snead 1994 looks at how racial constructions shaped and were shaped by Hollywood (e.g., Snead’s analysis of King Kong explores the film as a sociopolitical expression of American cultural politics). Green 2000 considers the impact of Oscar Micheaux’s filmmaking style on contemporary cinema and illuminates how Micheaux’s films exposed social problems within the black community. Green offers interesting insights on Micheaux’s more controversial aspects, for example, his preference for mixed-race, fair-skinned lead actors. Watkins 1998 evaluates the work of young black filmmakers and their ability to move beyond an established racialized gaze. Young 1996 (cited under Black Sexuality) further explores historical attitudes to race in British film, unpacking concepts of race, culture, and society first highlighted by Hall 1992 in a seminal essay. Following hooks 1992 (cited under Black Reception of Images), Willis 1997 takes a feminist approach to analyzing the position of race and ethnicity in American cinema. Denzin 2002 examines the range of representations offered in contemporary American cinema, across all (nonwhite) racial types, charting the evolution of racial representations and assessing their future potential, as well as considering the changes to the industry that racially and ethnically diverse filmmakers bring.

  • Bogle, Donald. Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams: The Story of Black Hollywood. New York: Ballantine, 2005.

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    Bogle’s comprehensive analysis explores all aspects of black Hollywood. He also charts the evolution of racial types and trends in film history.

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  • Denzin, Norman K. Reading Race: Hollywood and the Cinema of Racial Violence. London: SAGE, 2002.

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    This key text on the “cinematic racial order” examines African American, Hispanic, Latino, Chicano, Native American and Asian American characters, themes, films and filmmakers, and interrogates new racial aesthetics onscreen.

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  • Diawara, Manthia, ed. Black American Cinema. New York: Routledge, 1993.

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    This landmark collection of essays in film criticism explores the history of black people in American cinema and questions their contemporary positioning in independent and mainstream filmmaking.

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  • Green, J. Ronald. Straight Lick: The Cinema of Oscar Micheaux. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000.

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    Green assesses the cultural impact of Micheaux, the first renowned African American director.

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  • Guerrero, Ed. Framing Blackness: The African American Image in Film. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1993.

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    In his study of African Americans on film, Guerrero explores the social construction and representation of race and ethnicity. Guerrero argues that the history of commercial American cinema reflects a history of white cultural and social domination that is being broken by actors and filmmakers who, through oppositional practices, are reframing blackness.

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  • Hall, Stuart. “What Is This ‘Black’ in Black Popular Culture?” In Black Popular Culture. Edited by Gina Dent, 21–33. Seattle, WA: Bay, 1992.

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    Hall is a key figure in the development of cultural studies, and this influential essay centers on understanding questions of identity with regard to media constructions.

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  • Snead, James. White Screens, Black Images: Hollywood from the Dark Side. New York: Routledge, 1994.

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    Snead observes that Hollywood depictions of black characters were historically marked by racial mythologizing and marking, ideological fallacies, and the omission of positive traits. He evaluates how this has affected the development of the dominant film industry.

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  • Watkins, S. Craig. Representing: Hip Hop Culture and the Production of Black Cinema. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.

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    Watkins argues that Hollywood cinema continues to hold a particular gaze, through a representational system that positions blacks as image and whites as the bearer of the image. He suggests that black filmmakers may develop a new cinematic language.

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  • Willis, Sharon. High Contrast: Race and Gender in Contemporary Hollywood Films. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997.

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    Willis examines the dynamics of race and sex onscreen, considering their framing, positioning, and interaction in blockbuster and auteur cinema.

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Black Reception of Images

When considering race, film reception studies often refer back to the theories of Frantz Fanon, whose landmark psychoanalytic text Fanon 1967 (cited under Postcolonial Cinema) explained how it felt to be a black man in a white society (France). White reactions marked him as a savage and imposed the negative stereotypes of literature and film (the “Buck,” the “coon”) upon him. Diawara 1998, an essay for Screen, poses the question, “How . . . [do] black spectators identify with the representation of blacks in dominant cinema—through an act of disavowal?” The black female gaze has long been denied while the black male gaze has long been socially prohibited. Both bodies have been visually negated. Taylor 1994 insists on the importance in the foundation of identity of a recognition based in the Lacanian “mirror stage,” but as Mercer and Julien 1988 observe, some subjects may not have access to this initial moment of recognition, and the cinematic mirror often reflects back a distorted, unwanted image of blackness. Courtney 2005 (cited under Casting and Representation), argues that the “scopic rule” (i.e., racial classification according to visual observation), in legal use from 1806 in America, influenced the film industry’s focus on race and visual difference. Cinema therefore merely adhered to customs established by the (racist) scientific schools and legal systems of the 19th century. This nonrecognition or misrecognition is a reflection of a society that privileges whiteness onscreen and off, as stated in Gaines 2001 (cited under Screening Blackness). Marriott 2000 (cited under Black Sexuality) decries the aggressivity of the racial imago that makes the black subject phobic and abject and is a reflection of a cultural rejection of blackness. However, as hooks 1992 and Muñoz 1999 note, spectators can learn to enjoy cinema oppositionally and find their own way of negotiating such images. According to the research of Conrad, et al. 2009 on how media impact African American audiences, negative portrayals of mixed peoples/blacks do not necessarily have negative effects—if, that is, the spectator engages in a complex process of resistance. Stewart 2005 and Squires 2009 look at how this process of resistance, and the struggle for recognition, are both embedded in African American audiences and the history of the black community.

  • Conrad, Kate, Travis Dixon, and Yuanyuan Zhang. “Controversial Rap Themes, Gender Portrayals and Skin Tone Distortion: A Content Analysis of Rap Music Videos.” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 53.1 (March 2009): 134–156.

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    This concise analysis examines how we mediate negative visual stereotypes to create positive self-images, and the potential for mass media images to shape social identities.

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  • Diawara, Manthia. “Black Spectatorship: Problems of Identification and Resistance.” Screen 29.4 (1998): 66–79.

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    In this landmark essay, Diawara considers the position of the black spectator, and how the human desire to identify with screen images is affected when those received images are distorted reflections of one’s race or sex.

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  • hooks, bell. Black Looks: Race and Representation. London: Turnaround, 1992.

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    Hooks emphasizes the importance of identity politics in maintaining a critical approach to media consumption.

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  • Mercer, Kobena, and Isaac Julien. “Introduction: De Margin and De Centre.” Screen 29.4 (1988): 2–10.

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    In this illuminating essay, Mercer and Julien discuss the contextual racial ideologies that placed whites at the center of visual representation and marginalized others (particularly the black female; a subject perceived to be less than human, yet yoked to maternity and sex, as visualized in “the tragic mulatta,” “jezebel,” “Mammy,” and “Aunt Jemima” screen stereotypes).

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  • Muñoz, José Esteban. Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999.

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    Muñoz’s key text illuminates the political position of queer audiences as film spectators, arguing for the importance of “disidentifying” with negative images. In this way, following bell hooks, the spectator can take up an oppositional stance, enjoying films with racist/sexist/homophobic undertones by filtering out offensive images and oppositionally reading the film.

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  • Squires, Catherine R. African Americans and the Media. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2009.

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    Squires’s analysis is an overview of African American efforts to gain power over representation in the media.

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  • Stewart, Jacqueline. Migrating to the Movies: Cinema and Black Urban Modernity. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.

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    Stewart explores the relationship between black communities and the cinema, examining the impact of industry on community, and the way each shaped the other.

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  • Taylor, Charles. “The Politics of Recognition.” In Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognition. Edited by Amy Gutman, 25–74. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994.

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    Taylor analyzes how we learn to self-identify and the importance of external recognition in this process.

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Blackface

“Blackface” was a major element in American entertainment (vaudeville and cinema) from the 1700s on. Black and white actors donned burnt cork—often accompanied by enlarged white lips—and acted the fool onstage and onscreen. The Jazz Singer (1927) features a blackface performer who loses his Jewish Otherness by performing minstrelsy onstage. As Rogin 1996 notes, by the end of the film he has been assimilated into American whiteness; through promoting the cultural production and justification of segregationist racial politics, he is validated as an equal. The minstrel act that accompanied blackface makeup—the performance of jolly stupidity—was often read into the work of popular black actors. McDaniel’s “Mammy” roles (depictions of the “happy slave”), Fetchit’s slow-witted servants, and even Poitier’s leading roles (which some read as the “magical/noble negro”/“Uncle Tom” who cares only for white society), were thus decried by 1970s black film critics as extensions of the blackface tradition (even though none wore blackface and all could be read as subversive in their performed assertion of independent thought, and in their lived positions as leaders of a newly wealthy, black Hollywood elite—see Bogle 2005 cited under Black). Lipsitz 1998 explores the culture of 1970s cinema and the pivotal moment when representations began to shift. Blackface positioned blackness as a subhuman or inferior state of being in order to maintain the cultural exclusion of the black community but it masked an underlying fear of black power. Rony 2000 explores the depiction of King Kong as an extreme expression of this hyperimagining of the black subject. Blackface lost favor in the 1960s as pressure emerged from the NAACP-led Hollywood to cast black actors in more significant roles and make blackface taboo, but it is a tradition that has never fully left cinema or TV screens. While contemporary blackface remains controversial (see the 2009 media outcry over it on the Australian TV show Hey, Hey, It’s Saturday, when actor Robert Downey Jr., as a guest judge, objected to a blackface skit on the Jackson Five), the caricaturing of the blackface sketch can be used to illuminate racial politics and satirize ongoing inequalities, as in Lee’s 2000 film Bamboozled, or 2008’s Tropic Thunder (also starring Downey Jr. in blackface).

  • Lipsitz, George. “Genre Anxiety and Racial Representation in 1970s Cinema.” In Refiguring American Film Genres. Edited by Nick Browne, 208–232. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

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    Lipsitz’s analysis of the links between popular genres, race, and ideology examines their impact on visual culture in post-civil-rights-era America.

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  • Rogin, Michael. Blackface, White Noise: Jewish Immigrants in the Hollywood Melting Pot. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.

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    Rogin examines how and why Jewish performers utilized blackface in processes of assimilation into American society, exploring how this racial masking allowed them to lose their Otherness and become “white.”

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  • Rony, Fatimah Tobing. “King Kong and the Monster in Ethnographic Cinema.” In The Horror Reader. Edited by Ken Gelder, 242–252. London: Routledge, 2000.

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    Rony examines the historical associations linking blackness to bestiality and monstrosity, and considers the representations of ethnographic cinema. She provides an analysis of 1933 Hollywood classic King Kong, a film that reasserted many racial, sexual, and gender metaphors and that remains of interest (the last remake was in 2005).

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Black Sexuality

Bogle 2001 (cited under Screening Blackness), Bogle 2005 (cited under Black), hooks 1990, hooks 1996, Jones 1993, and Vogel 2008 establish how black and mixed-race characters (particularly women) have historically been essentialized as hypersexual, while Dyer 1997 (cited under White) notes the absence of sexuality from early images of whiteness (particularly white femininity). Courtney 2005 (cited under Casting and Representation), Gaines 1988, and Gaines 2001 (cited under Screening Blackness) explore how the “black man as rapist” myth was used to contain black men after slavery and translated into screen stereotypes. Jones 1993 outlines how the denormalization of black sexuality on film inscribes the black character as abnormal and limits the potential for screen images to promote racial equality. These arguments are borne out in Mask 2004, with its analysis of black/mixed/interracial sexuality as degenerate in 2001’s Monster’s Ball. Fanon 1967 (cited under Postcolonial Cinema), Nakashima 1992 (cited under the Tragic Mulatta), and Rony 2000 (cited under Blackface) have all explored representations of blackness as abject and racial mixing’s subsequent associations with perversion, degeneracy, and monstrosity (hence its criminalization in the United States between 1661 and 1967—state legislation varied). In her study of race and ethnicity in British films and film studies Young 1996 observes that antimiscegenation rhetoric targeted the health of the nation suggesting that interracial sexual activity would lead to social, moral, and physiological decay. Fanon 1967 and Marriott 2000 explore how the expression of negrophobia may hide negrophilia and an envy of the perceived excessive abandon of black sexuality. Somerville 2000 looks at how concepts of race have influenced ideas of sexuality, and contextualized new forms of Otherness and exclusion (drawing connections between the criminalization of both interracial and homosexual sex).

  • Gaines, Jane. “White Privilege and Looking Relations: Race and Gender in Feminist Film Theory.” Screen 29.4 (1988): 12–27.

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    Gaines argues that black femininity has traditionally been viewed as a special threat to white patriarchy, representative of the reproductive/revolutionary possibilities of (and perhaps white male desire for) the black race as a whole. The actualization of black female agency rejects multiple oppressions—race, class, gender—hence its marginalization onscreen.

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  • hooks, bell. Yearning: Race, Gender and Cultural Politics. London: Turnaround, 1990.

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    Hooks expresses the need to analyze and criticize the Hollywood gaze and to read films “against the grain”—that is, to deconstruct cinematic metaphors and politics in order to find a new kind of spectatorial pleasure in interrogation beyond the idea of white woman as spectacle/lack, and/or black woman as absent/abused.

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  • hooks, bell. Reel to Reel: Race, Sex and Class at the Movies. New York: Routledge, 1996.

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    Just as female spectators have, according to Laura Mulvey, been asked to make a “trans-sex identification” with the agent of desire and narrative in cinema, nonwhite spectators have been asked to make a “trans-ethnic identification” with white male protagonists, hooks argues. This practice has constructed them as narrative inferiors and excluded them from the articulation of desire.

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  • Jones, Jacquie. “The Construction of Black Sexuality: Towards Normalizing the Black Cinematic Experience.” In Black American Cinema. Edited by M. Diawara, 247–256. London: Routledge, 1993.

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    Jones analyzes how the hyperimaging of black sexuality has denormalized the black subject.

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  • Marriott, David. On Black Men. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000.

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    Following Fanon, Marriott argues that a misogynistic, racist discourse created a “mirror of confusion” established by a visual history in which only the shade or shadow of the mixed/black figure appears as a hated image, a phobic imago (hence the “Buck”/“coon”/“gangster-rapist” screen stereotypes of black masculinity as subhuman).

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  • Mask, Mia. “Monster’s Ball.” Film Quarterly 58.1 (2004): 44–55.

    DOI: 10.1525/fq.2004.58.1.44Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Mask examines Halle Berry’s position in the film, as a modern reinterpretation of the “tragic mulatta.” She also explores Berry’s wider public persona and the potential for her bankable mixed-race beauty to endear her to white and black spectators.

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  • Somerville, Siobhan B. Queering the Color Line: Race and the Invention of Homosexuality in American Culture. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000.

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    Somerville examines the intertwined histories of queer and racial politics, exemplified by the “miscegenation analogy” (the idea that interracial lust is more heinous than same-sex desire).

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  • Vogel, Shane. “‘Lena Horne’s Impersona’: Fabulous! Divas, Part Two.” Camera Obscura 67 23.1 (2008): 11–45.

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    In this exposition of Horne, a star in 1940s and 1950s Hollywood, Vogel suggests that there were two key frameworks for representing black womanhood, both based around sex: the sexless “Mammy” (or “Aunt Jemima”) and hypersexualized mulatta (stereotyped as the “jezebel”).

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  • Young, Lola. Fear of the Dark: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Cinema. London: Routledge, 1996.

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    Exploring British approaches to questions of identity, history, and nation, Young explicates how culturally specific factors affect the visualization of sexuality, gender, and race on film.

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White

Fanon 1967 (cited under Postcolonial Cinema), hooks 1990 (cited under Black Sexuality), and Hall 1997 argue that whiteness is constructed in relation to and exists only through definition against blackness; blackness then becomes a signifier for impurity, amorality, and the unknowable, and whiteness becomes its idealized opposite. Dyer 1993 and Dyer 1997 set out to racialize whiteness and remove it from the normative position of invisibility onscreen. Dyer explores whiteness as a mutable cultural category and considers its changing representation in media. In analyses of film stars and film culture, Negra 2001 and Negra 2006 outline whiteness as a construction that is constantly changing according to its contemporaneous cultural and political climate. These scholars explore the relationship between the development of American cinema and racial ideologies, as represented onscreen. Berry 2000 expands upon how makeup and costume departments created racial types for visualization. Zack 1993 notes that whiteness is defined by the absence of blackness in kinship, and argues that, given American history’s unofficial practice of miscegenation under slavery (where slave masters copulated with slaves in order to increase their slave population), which has led most people to have mixed ancestry, this position is questionable. Zack explores the cultural relativity of whiteness; black and white Americans traditionally ascribed the designation only to the peoples of imperial northwestern Europe, hence the idealized upper-middle-class WASP (white Anglo-Saxon Protestant) screen stereotype. Its instability is the subject of Scherr 2008 (cited under Casting and Representation), Negra 2001, Negra 2006, Vera and Gordon 2003, and Williams 2002, which, following Dyer, seek to queer whiteness, or mark it as strange.

  • Berry, Sarah. Screen Style: Fashion and Femininity in 1930s Hollywood. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000.

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    Berry explores the film culture of the 1930s, noting that “off-white” figures (i.e., those ethnicities deemed to be on the periphery of whiteness—Irish, Spanish; see Negra 2001) such as Greta Garbo, Hedy Lamarr, Anna May Wong, Lupe Velez, and Dorothy Lamour replaced “pale platinum blondes” as Hollywood’s glamorous icons.

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  • Dyer, Richard The Matter of Images: Essays on Representations. London: Routledge, 1993.

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    In this text Dyer analyzes the impact of race and sex on screen culture, focusing on sexuality, whiteness, and stereotyping. His work continues to interrogate issues of race, gender, and sexuality in classical and contemporary cinema.

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  • Dyer, Richard. White. London: Routledge, 1997.

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    Dyer notes that whiteness has an everything and nothing quality; being both the norm and being based on a dialectic of ubiquitous presence and emptiness/absence (as opposed to blackness, which is characterized by abundance and excess). Directing his analysis toward a range of Western representational forms, his key assertion, “other people are raced, we are just white” (p. 1), explains how white hegemonies assumed the power to speak for humanity.

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  • Hall, Stuart, ed. Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices. London: SAGE, 1997.

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    In this collection of key academic research on representation Hall assesses the various positions of filmmakers and theoreticians regarding cultural expressions and visual culture, with particular emphasis on the role of racial fantasies and gender narratives in the media.

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  • Negra, Diane. Off-White Hollywood: American Culture and Ethnic Female Stardom. New York: Routledge, 2001.

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    Negra highlights the impact of racialization on screen and celebrity culture in this comprehensive examination of Hollywood, ethnicity, class, sexuality, and gender.

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  • Negra, Diane, ed. The Irish in Us: Irishness, Performativity and Popular Culture. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006.

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    Negra’s edited collection of essays examines white Irish identity as a changing construction and a diasporic phenomenon. The idea of Irishness as an “enriched whiteness,” that enables subjects to claim multicultural status while retaining the privileges of whiteness, underpins this study of transnational manifestations of Irishness.

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  • Vera, Hernan, and Andrew Gordon. Screen Saviors: Hollywood Fictions of Whiteness. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2003.

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    Vera and Gordon examine how, from its beginnings to the present day, Hollywood has created the idea of “whiteness” as superior, heroic, and idealized (and positions nonwhites as the opposite).

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  • Williams, Linda. Playing the Race Card: Melodramas of Black and White from Uncle Tom to O.J. Simpson. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002.

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    Williams analyzes the racial and sexual ideologies central to American popular culture.

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  • Zack, Naomi. Race and Mixed Race. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1993.

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    Zack’s comprehensive analysis of race and ethnicity adopts an historical perspective to understand contemporary culture.

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Mixed-Race Studies

Under American slavery, racial mixing between slaves and whites was illegal, and in many American states it remained illegal until the Supreme Court ruling allowing black and white couples to marry in 1967. Smyth 2010 explores the impact of 1930s screen adaptations of Edna Ferber’s literary narratives of racial mixing (Cimarron, 1931; Showboat, 1936) at a time when such representations were taboo. Zack 1995 examines how film images correspond to broader cultural ideas of race and ethnicity. Ifekwunigwe 2004 notes that the post-1967 “biracial baby boom” resulted in a significant generation of mixed-race people in America. “Mixed studies” took hold in the 1990s as a plethora of autobiographies by mixed people emerged. Mixed movements led to the establishment of new categories in the census (in 2000 in the United States; in 2001 in the United Kingdom) and a new political and social recognition of mixed-race identities. The analysis of mixed-race representation on film remains largely underexplored. This is due in no small part to the fact that the abstract nature of the mixed-race classification (and/or self-identification) is so dependent on cultural factors that many analyses of mixed-race characters have been absorbed into other academic frameworks, mostly black studies. Since the new millennium there has been an explosion of mixed-race representations in cinema and other media. Beltràn and Fojas 2008 and Wynter 2002 comment on the popularity and prevalence of mixed-race actors, the commercialization of hybridity (the “mixed dollar”), and the number of white actors adopting a more ethnic, “multiculti,” “transgenic” look, as the industry seeks to develop characters able to move between and beyond cultures. This trend is something Nakamura 2002 theorizes as the development of “third identities” and that Lee 2003 (cited under Passing) describes as “third types.” Vande Berg 1996 explores the idea of the mixed-race figure as a signifier of a futuristic posthuman society, as well as a symbol of contemporary racial tensions, in her analysis of Star Trek’s Spock as a mixed-race figure. The problematics of mixed-race issues in cinema are explored in detail by Beltràn and Fojas 2008, while Courtney 2005 (cited under Casting and Representation), Marchetti 1994 (cited under Asian), and Gaines 2001 (cited under Screening Blackness) explore racial mixing on the screen. Asava 2007 (cited under the Tragic Mulatta) and Asava 2010 (cited under Passing) explore the centrality of this figure in American visual culture and in a variety of world cinemas. Owens 2001 questions mixed-race concerns in Native American popular culture.

  • Beltràn, Mary, and Camilla Fojas, eds. Mixed Race Hollywood. New York: New York University Press, 2008.

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    This series of essays charts the evolution of the mixed-race character on the American screen, exploring a wide range of films and excavating the history of racial dynamics in Hollywood, as well as the contemporary postracial/raceless aesthetic and how it maintains/erases difference.

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  • Ifekwunigwe, Jayne. “Mixed Race” Studies: A Reader. London: Routledge, 2004.

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    In this edited collection, Ifekwunigwe draws together an essential body of work on Mixed Studies from a variety of academic fields.

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  • Nakamura, Lisa. Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet. New York: Routledge, 2002.

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    Nakamura looks at how race and ethnicity operate visually and ideologically in contemporary screen culture, examining the impact of virtual identity tourism in cyberculture, literature, and film.

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  • Owens, Louis. Mixedblood Messages: Literature, Film, Family, Place. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001.

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    Owens analyzes the positioning of Native Americans in terms of representation and racial mixture, exploring literary self-representation and Hollywood distortions of Native American imaging from the 1950s Westerns to contemporary filmmaking.

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  • Smyth, Jennifer E. Edna Ferber’s Hollywood: American Fictions of Gender, Race and History. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010.

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    Smyth explores Ferber’s multiracial stories and their screen adaptations, examining how they challenged narratives of white masculine power.

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  • Vande Berg, Leah. “Liminality: Worf as Metonymic Signifier of Racial, Cultural, and National Differences.” In Enterprise Zones: Critical Positions on Star Trek. Edited by Taylor Harrison, Kent A. Ono, Sarah Projansky, and Elyce Rae Helford, 274–284. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1996.

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    Vande Berg explores film narratives of hybridity in science fiction, centering her analysis on the use of “species-as-race” theory, whereby racial tensions, differences, and issues become transformed into species differences.

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  • Wynter, Leon. American Skin: Pop Culture, Big Business, and the End of White America. New York: Crown, 2002.

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    Wynter examines contemporary film culture’s “transracial vision,” arguing that mixed-race figures represent the ultimate challenge to ideas of “race” in America.

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  • Zack, Naomi, ed. American Mixed Race: The Culture of Microdiversity. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 1995.

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    In this collection, Zack, a pioneer of Mixed Studies, brings together contemporary analytical essays on all aspects of the academic field to date, from biography to art and film (focusing on the “tragic mulatto” melodramatic stereotype), and emerging ideas of identity.

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Passing

In “passing” narratives, characters designated “black” according to the hypodescent or “one drop rule” (which stated that anyone with black ancestry was legally black, regardless of actual skin color) “pass” for white. Bogle 2001 (cited under Screening Blackness) notes the presence of the “passing” female in American film from 1911. He explains that the postwar “passer” was a signifier of America’s struggle for survival and of its insecurity and instability as a nation seeking a new identity and sense of belonging. The “passer” struggles with, as Fanon 1967 (cited under Postcolonial Cinema) observes, the dialectic of belonging and nonbelonging, being black and being white. Dyer 2002 considers the career opportunities available for an actress who refused to “pass” or play “passers.” Kawash 1997 (cited under the Tragic Mulatta), Marchetti 1994 (cited under Asian), and Nishime 2005 observe how the “passer” reveals the constructedness of race and representation, though the “passer” was usually played by a white actress, and thus, it can be argued, contributed to the marginalization of blackness. But as Smyth 2006 (cited under the Tragic Mulatta) and Smyth 2010 (cited under Mixed-Race Studies) argues, the indistinguishability between the “black” “passer” and his/her white friends also undermined ideas of racial superiority supporting segregation. Fischer 1991, Mulvey 1996, Thaggert 1998, and Asava 2007 (the latter cited under theTragic Mulatta) have all theorized 1959’s Imitation of Life, which, along with its 1934 predecessor (featuring mixed star Fredi Washington), became an international sensation, sparking debates on race relations in America and beyond. “Passing” narratives were titillating and often involved a taboo love affair (which Green 2000, cited under Black, notes was a form of hubris soon punished in the tragic cycle) but also allowed directors to explore injustice, as McGehee 2006 notes. On the rare occasions where the “passer” was male, he often had more success than female “passers,” reflecting gender inequities (see Oscar Micheaux’s 1920 film The Symbol of the Unconquered, and 1959’s J’irai cracher sur vos tombes and Shadows). Lee 2003 explores “passing” as a mask that allows a character to inhabit different identities (see Wang 2005). The multiply identified leads of films such as 2005’s Transamerica or 2007’s I’m Not There draw our attention not only to “passing” and cultural hybridity but also to the nature of acting as inhabiting multiple identities as explored (respectively) by Scherr 2008 (cited under Casting and Representation) and Asava 2010.

  • Asava, Zélie. “Multiculturalism and Morphing in I’m Not There.” Wide Screen 2.1 (2010): 1–15.

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    Asava explores the use of “passing” and the depictions of race, gender, sexuality, and the artist in 2007’s I’m Not There, which focuses on the multilayeredness of identity.

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  • Dyer, Richard. “The Colour of Entertainment.” In Only Entertainment. By Richard Dyer, 36–45. New York: Routledge, 2002.

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    In this essay examining the way that race is represented in the Hollywood musical, Dyer notes that MGM persistently pressured Lena Horne to “pass” for white but she refused. Her racial designation as black in segregated Hollywood was almost less problematic than her ambiguity and visual indistinguishability from other whites. (Though multiracial, people often assumed that she was white.)

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  • Fischer, Lucy, ed. Imitation of Life. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1991.

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    Explores Douglas Sirk’s 1959 version of Imitation of Life, examining the film with regard to questions of aesthetics, genre and history, the star system, auteur theory, and concepts of gender and race.

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  • Lee, Josephine. “Racial Actors, Liberal Myths.” Xcp: Cross-Cultural Poetics 13 (2003): 88–110.

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    Lee explores “passing” in terms of racial theories such as liberal integrationism and cultural nationalism, considering the idea of race as a false “mask” over the deracinated real self, and the importance of the racial “mask” as a signifier of selfhood, authenticity, and identity.

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  • McGehee, Margaret T. “Disturbing the Peace: Lost Boundaries, Pinky, and Censorship in Atlanta, Georgia, 1949–52.” Cinema Journal 46.1 (2006): 23–51.

    DOI: 10.1353/cj.2007.0002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An analysis of “passing,” film codes, and censorship. McGehee provides a thorough reading of Pinky (1949) and looks at how the film’s production and reception were affected by contemporary concepts of race and segregation.

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  • Mulvey, Laura. Fetishism and Curiosity. London: British Film Institute, 1996.

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    In this work, Mulvey reassesses established theories of race and sex and offers new insights into classic Hollywood films such as Citizen Kane (1941), Imitation of Life (1934), and Blue Velvet (1986), considering how fetishism operates in filmmaking to disguise exploitative discourses.

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  • Nishime, LeiLani. “The Mulatto Cyborg: Imagining a Multiracial Future.” Cinema Journal 44.2 (2005): 34–49.

    DOI: 10.1353/cj.2005.0011Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Nishime reads the sci-fi cyborg as mulatto in order to evaluate the validity of race when physical characteristics are indistinguishable across boundaries. This calls into question the potential for “passing,” as race is not an essence or an unalterable category.

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  • Thaggert, Miriam. “Divided Images: Black Female Spectatorship and John Stahl’s Imitation of Life.” African American Review 32 (1998): 481–491.

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    Thaggert explores the filmic expression of America’s “color line,” and how we identify with mixed-race characters despite and perhaps because of the contradictions they expose. Her work analyzes the “double consciousness” of America’s racial polarities.

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  • Wang, Yiman. “The Art of Screen Passing: Anna May Wong’s ‘Yellow Yellowface’ Performance in the Art Deco Era.” Camera Obscura 20.3 (2005): 158–191.

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    Wang explores Wong as a cinematic “passer,” interrogating the role of the Asian American starlet in early and silent cinema, and examining her position as a sex symbol.

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The Tragic Mulatta

The perceived tragedy of the mixed figure has been represented predominately by the (black/white) female body. Smyth 2006 explores the gender dynamic in her consideration of women’s representations of mixed-race bodies. The “tragic mulatta” is the most enduring mixed-race stereotype and, as Bogle 2001 (cited under Screening Blackness) argues, was long the only cinematic representation of mixed femininity. In this genre, the mixed woman was represented as either the “haughty light-skinned girl” or the “passer.” Landwehr 1996 outlines three characteristic elements: the mulatta’s hypersexuality, her psychopathic mind-set, and a cycle of punishment and repentance (socially deviant behavior followed by the return “home” to the black community and a black identity). The tragic mulatta, as Nakashima 1992, Giles 1995, and Kawash 1997 note, was defined as melancholic because of her illicit origins and position between two worlds. Asava 2007 explores the evolution of this figure from classic Hollywood to modern cinema (and the transition of themes between America and Europe). Ifekwunigwe 2004 and Beltràn and Fojas 2008 (both cited under Mixed-Race Studies) interrogate the “hybrid degeneracy” theories that cinematically translated into the tragic mulatta: a beautiful, sexual, anguished, white-skinned woman with a dark past (i.e., black gene). Bogle 2001 sums it up: “Their ‘tragedy’ was that they weren’t born all-white” (quoted from the blurb of 1974 edition). Yet the cinematic mulatta is also a challenging figure who in early cinema represented a newly visible racial territory that subverted the traditional racial classification system and questioned the “purity” of the nation. The mulatta, as a physical manifestation of race mixing, was a threat to the typologies of American racial legislation and the ideologies that undergirded it. Its threatening status persists and can be found embedded in many works of contemporary cinema, including 2001’s Monster’s Ball; 2003’s Gothika; 2005’s Isolation; 2007’s Perfect Stranger and Things We Lost in the Fire; and 2008’s Seven Pounds and Lakeview Terrace.

  • Asava, Zélie. “Mixed-Race Issues in the American and French Melodrama: An Analysis of the Imitation of Life Films (1934/1959) and Métisse.” In Irish Films, Global Cinema. Edited by Martin McLoone and Kevin Rockett, 171–180. Dublin, Ireland: Four Courts, 2007.

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    Asava explores key characteristics of the tragic mulatta and charts how these representations are reshaped in the modern melodrama.

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  • Giles, Freda Scott. “From Melodrama to the Movies: The Tragic Mulatto as a Type Character.” In American Mixed Race: The Culture of Microdiversity. Edited by Naomi Zack, 63–78. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 1995.

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    An exploration of the tragic mulatto/a in film and television, in Eurocentric and African American representations.

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  • Kawash, Samara. Dislocating the Color Line: Identity, Hybridity and Singularity in African-American Narrative. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1997.

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    Kawash examines the impossibility of hybridity in America’s racial dialectic. The complexity of the tragic mulatta makes her position untenable on film.

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  • Landwehr, Ralina. “Reconstructing Racial Boundaries: ‘Tragic Mulattas’ in Film, 1915–1959.” In Essays on “Mixed Race” Issues. Edited by Richard Tapper, 1–14. London: SOAS, University of London, 1996.

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    Landwehr argues that The Birth of a Nation works on a tripartite system of race, in contradiction to the traditional black/white dichotomy, thus accepting the tragic mulatta as a separate identity and opening a space for a mixed-race recognition.

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  • Nakashima, Cynthia. “An Invisible Monster: The Creation and Denial of Mixed-Race People.” In Racially Mixed People in America. Edited by Maria P. P. Root, 162–178. Newbury Park, CA: SAGE, 1992.

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    Nakashima elaborates on how the tragic mulatta’s perceived vulnerability and instability is related to her multiraciality, and her position as a minority/outcast (because of the perceived impossibility of her racial mixture).

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  • Smyth, Jennifer E. “New Frontiers in American Interracial History: Edna Ferber and the Indian Mixed-Blood.” European Journal of Native American Studies 20.1 (2006): 39–45.

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    Smyth argues that female-authored representations of the tragic mulatta/o differ from classic tropes by presenting them as active survivors rather than doomed protagonists. These narratives are also a sign of the dominant mixed film template being rooted in the South, a geographical signifier still embedded in mainstream American imaginings of racial mixing.

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Postcolonial Cinema

Fanon 1967, Said 1979, and Bhabha 1989 offer comprehensive analyses of the postcolonial paradigm. As Spivak 1993 and Ezra 2000 observe, postcolonial cinema has struggled with the ideological aims of decolonizing film culture and representation in order to tell the stories of indigenous people whose voices were silenced under colonialism, while typically maintaining a reliance on former colonies for training, funding, technicians, equipment, and so forth. This relationship has influenced what stories are told and how, potentially limiting the ability of filmmakers to speak or act freely. Postcolonial cinema thus centralizes themes such as detachment and dislocation from selfhood, moral consciousness, language, and culture, and utilizes them as signifiers of the loss of identity, community, and history. Central to this cinema are authentic representations of race and ethnicity (see McClintock 1995), which negate the earlier negative stereotypes of a Eurocentric visual culture, as explored by Codell 2007.

  • Bhabha, Homi K. The Location of Culture. New York: Routledge, 1989.

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    Bhabha’s writings on the colonial subject—constructing him as “incomplete” and “virtual” in a colonialist discourse—and his concepts of “resemblance” (an uncertain familiarity and similarity between colonizer and colonized), and colonial mimicry (the imitation of former masters), are all essential reading on the subject of the postcolonial, and can be taken as forming the subtext to postcolonial cinema.

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  • Codell, Julie F. Genre, Gender, Race and World Cinema. Oxford: Blackwell, 2007.

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    A volume of essays considering issues of race and ethnicity in American, European, Asian, and African cinema.

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  • Ezra, Elizabeth. The Colonial Unconscious: Race and Culture in Interwar France. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2000.

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    In this fascinating exposition of imperialism and ideology, Ezra unpacks France’s attitudes to race, considering the contradictions of colonial policy. She analyzes the ideas of la plus grande France (mainland and colonies) embedded within visual art (posters, films, objets d’art), concluding with an examination of integration in France, and its contemporary position as an empire.

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  • Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin, White Masks. London: Pluto, 1967.

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    This landmark text in critical race theory, philosophy, and sociology, interrogates a series of racial myths and ideologies. Fanon analyzes how images and ideologies correspond to form ideas of the Other, which appear to be based on fact but are actually rooted in irrational fears stemming from colonial policies and practices.

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  • McClintock, Anne. Imperial Leather: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest. New York: Routledge, 1995.

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    McClintock examines questions of empire, race, gender, and sex in the colonial spectacle, considering British imperialism from the Victorian era to contemporary South Africa.

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  • Said, Edward. Orientalism. New York: Vintage, 1979.

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    Said explores the history of political discourse in relation to the Orient and Occident and considers how European colonialism shaped identity categories according to this dichotomy (which itself formed the basis of racial positioning and established fixed cultural categories).

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  • Spivak, Gayatri C. “Can the Subaltern Speak?” In Colonial Discourse and Post-colonial Theory: A Reader. Edited by Patrick Williams and Laura Chrisman, 66–111. New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1993.

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    Spivak’s influential essay questions the position of the developing world in global culture, and by extension, its power over representations in the cinematic arena.

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Third Cinema

Third Cinema uses film as a political tool to interrogate and visualize social values, traditions, and ideals. Its development coincided with the liberation movements of Latin America, Asia, and Africa, and Third Cinema theory was directly influenced by this contemporary politic. It aimed to deconstruct and replace the negative stereotyping on film of the races and ethnicities of the developing world. Glauber Rocha’s landmark essay (see Rocha 1983, originally published in 1965) and films sought to stir and awaken consciousness through the event of cinematic experience. He argued from a Marxist perspective that intellectual “violence” was necessary in order to break through and shatter entrenched unjust colonial narratives. In their refining of these ideas and subsequent labeling of this movement as Third Cinema, Getino and Solanas 1976 (originally published in 1968) defined a hierarchy of cinemas: American as first cinema (mainstream, hegemonic, bourgeois, capitalist), European as second cinema (auteurist, semicritical, petit-bourgeois), and the new cinema movement they developed for the tricontinental “Third World” (Africa, Asia, South America) as Third Cinema (politicized, critical, revolutionary, democratic, anti-authoritarian, made for the masses, grounded in social realism). Armes 1987 and Willemen and Pines 1989 explore the potentials and pitfalls of this movement in the modern world and examine its ability to separate racial representations from earlier distortions and reshape concepts of representation.

  • Armes, Roy. Third World Filmmaking and the West. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987.

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    Armes’s scholarship theorizes the cultures and social structures of the developing world in order to understand the politics underlying their cinematic production. He explores Third Cinema, national cinemas, and what would come to be known as “transnational” filmmaking.

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  • Getino, Octavio, and Fernando Solanas. “Towards a Third Cinema.” In Movies and Methods: An Anthology. Edited by Bill Nichols, 44–64. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976.

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    With this 1968 essay, Getino and Solanas launched a political cinematic movement: Third Cinema, a form of filmmaking created as a model for developing world filmmakers to find a politicized indigenous, democratic esthetic.

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  • Rocha, Glauber. “The Aesthetics of Hunger.” In Twenty-Five Years of the New Latin American Cinema. Edited by Michael Chanan, 13–14. London: British Film Institute, 1983.

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    This 1965 essay is directed against the values of the cinema of imperialism and in favor of a new filmmaking style that would eschew narrative clarity in favor of violent, expressive imagery (making the film more accessible to all regardless of language/literacy levels).

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  • Willemen, Paul, and Jim Pines, eds. Questions of Third Cinema. London: British Film Institute, 1989.

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    In this collection, key scholars and filmmakers consider the position of Third Cinema in the postcolonial world, exploring its ability to translate across boundaries of time and geography (i.e., to other parts of Solanas and Getino’s tricontinental vision—Africa, Latin America, Asia—and beyond, to diasporic communities in the former empire, e.g., British Asian and black British communities).

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Transnational Cinema

As cinema has become part of the globalized world, film theory has begun to explore the idea of film as an art that transcends and transgresses the concerns of national cinemas and cultural borders. Transnational cinema studies (see Ezra and Rowden 2006) explores implications for the cinematic conception of race and ethnicity in its consideration of how the economic and cultural globalization of film impacts upon film form, film themes, film personnel, and film audiences. As new partnerships and understandings take shape, so too do racial representations and attitudes in film begin to change, reflecting a more interconnected and equal world. The work in this emerging field continues to develop as global media politics continues to shift. Naficy 2001 explores the position of the postcolonial filmmaker working in the West, making films that transgress borders, languages, and cultural codes. Marciniak, et al. 2007 and Tay 2009 consider transnational issues in film studies from a feminist perspective.

  • Ezra, Elizabeth, and Terry Rowden, eds. Transnational Cinemas: The Film Reader. London: Routledge, 2006.

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    This key collection amasses the research of a set of scholars whose work has defined how we understand transnational cinema. The essays consider the authenticity of national cinemas, the transnationality of the developing world, and the potentials of digital media in a transnational film culture.

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  • Marciniak, Katarzyna, Anikó Imre, and Áine O’Healy, eds. Transnational Feminism in Film and Media. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

    DOI: 10.1057/9780230609655Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores feminist approaches to border crossing (of geographical, sexual, racial, political, and cultural spaces) in contemporary films from around the world.

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  • Naficy, Hamid. An Accented Cinema: Exilic and Diasporic Filmmaking. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001.

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    In this pioneering account, Naficy examines how the experiences of exilic and diasporic filmmakers translate into new forms of filmmaking that are accented through alternative styles, modes, and approaches, as well as through their multilingual and multicultural narratives.

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  • Tay, Sharon Lin. Women on the Edge: Twelve Political Film Practices. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

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    Tay theorizes the filmmaking approaches of contemporary female directors around the world, and questions the current position of women’s cinema.

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Beur

As stated under Racial Positioning, in order to comprehend Hollywood’s relationship to the global, it is useful to examine how racial representations have evolved in other contexts, so French beur cinema is considered here as a case study. Ezra 2000 (see Postcolonial Cinema) suggests that the limited success of French nonwhites in cinema can be attributed to the fact that under the World War II Vichy regime (during the Nazi occupation of France) there was a concerted effort to rid the French film industry of Jews and foreigners. With the regression in the 1970s to a petit-bourgeois film culture (and the rise of soft-porn within that), Maghrebi and white French filmmakers in the 1980s initiated a beur (ghetto slang for “Arab”—a term coined by second-generation Maghrebi migrants) new wave focused on representing the concerns of the young and disillusioned mixed-race, black, beur, and white French. An art movement called “la culture beur” grew up around this grouping giving opportunities to minority artists; beur cinema gave filmmakers from ethnic minority and marginalized backgrounds the opportunity to tell their stories. It was influenced by contemporaneous African American cinema and politics (e.g., often set in the “hood” and centered on racial conflict). The terms beur and beur cinema have become negatively stereotyped and overidentified with violence, crime, and “le cinema de banlieue” (i.e., ghetto cinema). Tarr 2007 notes, “The difficulty of naming this section of the population is indicative of their ongoing problematic status within French culture” (p. 32). The beur filmmaking aesthetic is often a political representation of claustrophobic living conditions, and English filmmaker Ken Loach has been an influence on the social realism of this cinema. Schroeder 2001 examines how it was also influenced by African American cinema and politics (e.g., often set in the “hood” and centered on racial conflict). Vincendeau 2005 and Asava 2011 explore narratives of racial mixing in this form of French cinema, which has become highly critically acclaimed. For example, 2007’s La Graine et le mulet (Couscous) won four Césars, while 2006’s Indigènes (Days of glory) won awards at Cannes and a César (as well as an Oscar nomination, as did Bouchareb’s next film 2010’s Hors la Loi [Outside the law]—though the latter two were classed as Algerian rather than French). Tarr 2007 and Tarr 2005 examine how the beur filmmaking aesthetic draws on cultural and generational divides, and interrogates the use of the term beur as exclusionary and derisive. Higbee 2001 and Higbee 2010 explore the key themes of this cinema. Bloom 2006 notes that beur is a site where cultural difference may be recognized as a positive transnational hybridity (though it has also been defined as dangerously different and threatening to the social norm).

  • Asava, Zélie. “Drôle de Félix (Ducastel & Martineau, France, 1999): A Search for Cultural Identity on the Road.” Wide Screen 3.1 (2011): 1–15.

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    Asava’s article examines the representational schema of Drôle de Félix by exploring the cinematic stereotypes and taboos challenged and maintained in the film in comparison to traditional beur cinema and established conceptions about Maghrebi-French characters in French cinema.

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  • Bloom, Peter. “Beur Cinema and the Politics of Location: French Immigration Politics and the Naming of a Film Movement.” In Transnational Cinema: The Film Reader. Edited by Elizabeth Ezra and Terry Rowden, 131–142. London: Routledge, 2006.

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    Bloom examines the history and cultural positioning of beur cinema, considering how it has reimagined concepts of race and ethnicity. He goes on to examine how French race relations have affected the naming of this film movement and this community in France, and how beur visual culture has developed as a result of this political framing.

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  • Higbee, Will. “Hybridity, Space and the Right to Belong: Maghrebi-French Identity at the Crossroads in Karim Dridi’s Bye-Bye.” In France on Film: Reflections on Popular French Cinema. Edited by Lucy Mazdon, 51–64. London: Wallflower, 2001.

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    Higbee outlines issues of integration and immigration in French filmmaking, examining hybridity and miscegenation in French society. His analysis is framed by the idea of Marseilles as a mixed-race space.

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  • Higbee, Will, and Sarah Leahy, eds. Studies in French Cinema: UK Perspectives 1985–2010. Bristol, UK: Intellect, 2010.

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    This overview of French filmmaking is also a comprehensive study of the research that has shaped French film theory over the last few decades. This key text encompasses the evolution of a series of trends in French cinema and in film studies, drawing on the work of academics such as Ginette Vincendeau, Carrie Tarr, and Susan Hayward, in considering discourses of onscreen gender and race.

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  • Schroeder, Erin. “A Multicultural Conversation: La Haine, Raï, and Menace II Society.” Camera Obscura 46.2 (2001): 143–179.

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    Schroeder interrogates cultural representations in French and American filmmaking, comparing three key works made in the banlieue/hood style. Her comparative analysis reveals the influence of African American filmmakers on the beur film movement and examines translations of racial positioning in different contexts.

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  • Tarr, Carrie. Reframing Difference: Beur and Banlieue Filmmaking in France. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2005.

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    Tarr presents a comprehensive analysis of filmmaking trends in beur and banlieue cinema, exploring the evolution of the representation of Maghrebi-French protagonists and their environment, thus questioning the success of multiculturalism in France and its acceptance of difference within its citizens.

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  • Tarr, Carrie. “Maghrebi-French (Beur) Filmmaking in Context.” Cineaste 33.1 (2007): 32–37.

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    In a special supplement on beur cinema, Tarr and other theorists unpack questions of identity in Maghrebi-French filmmaking and culture, focusing on films that challenge convention by exploring nonheteronormative sexualities and non-Maghrebi-French/ghetto cultures.

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  • Vincendeau, Ginette. La Haine. London: I. B. Tauris, 2005.

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    Vincendeau explores this classic example of beur cinema, considering its Jewish middle-class director’s aesthetic combination of stylization and social realism in visualizing contemporary racial politics in France. Vincendeau analyzes the film’s impact and the performances of its protagonists, a trio of men who replaced the tri-color of the French flag with the “beur, blanc et black” of modern France.

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Latino/Hispanic

Beltràn and Fojas 2008 (cited under Mixed-Race Studies) is a brilliant collection that features a number of writers analyzing Latino, Chicano, and Hispanic representations and exploring the relativity of racial designations; often, where Latinos are considered white in nonwhite contexts (e.g., Latin America), they are considered nonwhite in white contexts (e.g., North America). Observations extend to how Hispanics may be read as black: for example, in the case of Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, and Cubans who are traditionally associated with blackness in the white American perspective, as evidenced in their institutional and cinematic treatment (e.g., Rosario Dawson as a black-identified character in Spike Lee’s 2002 film 25thHour, and 2008’s Seven Pounds). Beltràn 2002 examines the star power and racialization of Jennifer Lopez. Beltràn and Fojas 2008 (cited under Mixed-Race Studies) analyzes representations of Rio Lobo’s French-Mexican Pierre Cordona (played by Mexican Jorge Rivero), and The Searchers’ quarter–Native American Martin Pawley, as signifiers of the boundaries of nation. As Hershfield and Maciel 1999 attests, while Mexicans were not officially racialized as nonwhite in the United States, they typically have been so in the collective popular imagination: and yet, many have achieved what Negra 2001 (cited under White) calls an “off-white” (almost white) status. Conversely, Beltràn 2009 looks at how major stars of Hispanic descent such as Cameron Diaz, Jessica Alba, and Jennifer Lopez have become white-identified. The rise of such popular figures is accompanied by the rise of Latino media outlets such as Univision, granting Latino/Hispanic communities their own visual space in the public arena. Sandoval-Sànchez 1999 investigates the stereotypical taxonomies that lead Latinas to be regarded as objects of desire to satisfy the male gaze. Beltràn 2009 further analyzes the parameters of media stardom for Latino/as. Hernandez 2008 considers the position of gay Latinos on film, and their reduction to “hypersexualized hypermasculines.” King 1993, Sandoval-Sànchez 1999, and Negrón-Muntaner 2004 explore the transnational exchanges which have shaped Latino/a representations. Pettit 1980 and Valdivia 2010 explore onscreen representation and self-representation.

  • Beltràn, Mary. “The Hollywood Latina Body as Site of Social Struggle: Media Constructions of Stardom and Jennifer Lopez’s ‘Cross-over Butt.’” Quarterly Review of Film and Video 19.1 (2002): 71–86.

    DOI: 10.1080/10509200214823Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Beltràn’s influential essay assesses Lopez’s crossover power, examining her position as a media figure, star symbol, and sex object.

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  • Beltràn, Mary. Latino/a Stars in U.S. Eyes: The Making and Meanings of Film and TV Stardom. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009.

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    Beltràn examines the construction of Latino/a ethnicities in the media and assesses the impact of Latino/a film stars, filmmakers, and media producers on the art of visualizing and understanding race.

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  • Hernandez, Gary. “A Window into a Life Uncloseted: ‘Spice Boy’ Imaginings in New Queer Cinema.” In Mixed Race Hollywood. Edited by Mary Beltràn and Camilla Fojas, 113–135. New York: New York University Press, 2008.

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    Hernandez considers homosexual interracial couplings that evoke North and South America’s racial and territorial history. As with women, these Latino lovers are positioned as objects of desire for whites but are mostly represented as promiscuous, unstable, and incapable of long-term monogamy (thus removing them from the possibility of marriage/parenthood with a white character).

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  • Hershfield, Joanne, and David R. Maciel, eds. Mexico’s Cinema: A Century of Film and Filmmakers. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 1999.

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    A collection of essays exploring the historical and contemporary position of Mexican filmmaking.

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  • King, John, Ana M. López, and Manuel Alvarado. Mediating Two Worlds: Cinematic Encounters in the Americas. London: British Film Institute, 1993.

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    This collection looks at how European and North American cinema has represented Latinidad, and how Latin American cinemas have developed new film cultures.

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  • Negrón-Muntaner, Frances. Boricua Pop: Puerto Ricans and the Latinization of American Culture. New York: New York University Press, 2004.

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    In this examination of shifts in Puerto Rican identity, migration, visibility, and culture, Negrón-Muntaner assesses the impact of transculturation on American popular culture.

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  • Pettit, Arthur G. Images of the Mexican American in Fiction and Film. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1980.

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    An historical analysis of representations of Mexican Americans in visual cultural history.

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  • Sandoval-Sànchez, Alberto. José, Can You See? Latinos On and Off Broadway. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1999.

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    Sandoval-Sànchez examines the historical stereotyping of Latinos in popular culture, their self-representations, and the images created of Latino communities on the Hollywood screen.

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  • Valdivia, Angharad N. Latina/os and the Media. Cambridge, MA: Polity, 2010.

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    Valdivia explores how Latino/as are represented and self-represent in the media, and the impact these interpretations have on Latinidad and society at large.

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African

African film has, since its inception, centralized and challenged issues of race on film, and as an emerging cinema, is an important subject area for anyone interested in issues of race in world cinema. The sub-Saharan African film industry began to emerge in the postcolonial era, starting in 1951 with Albert Mongita’s The Cinema Lesson (Congo). Therese Sita Bella followed twelve years later with Tam Tam à Paris (Cameroon), at a time when independence led to the rapid rise of African cinema. In the same year, 1963, the man who would go on to become the most popular African filmmaker (and who is widely credited with the birth of sub-Saharan cinema), Ousmane Sembene, made his first film, a short called Borrom Sarrett (Senegal). His groundbreaking feature, 1966’s La noire de . . ., would lead him to be compared to Sergei Eisenstein and would put African filmmaking firmly on the map. Armes 1987 and Willemen and Pines 1989 (both cited under Third Cinema) position African film studies within a postcolonial, “third” cinema, Third World-ist framework (although these works also question the ability of Third Cinema to translate across temporal and geographical borders). This positioning also operates in Murphy 2008, an excellent dissemination of key directors’ work. Armes 2006 takes a new approach by comparing the work of north and sub-Saharan filmmaking, two realms that are generally kept separate despite their proximity. Thackway 2003 and Dovey 2009 also move away from earlier frameworks to consider African filmmaking from a fresh viewpoint in terms of feminism, genre theory, film codes, and Continental aesthetics. Tomaselli 1988 provides a comprehensive analysis of the South African film industry and explores its multiple racial narratives.

  • Armes, Roy. African Filmmaking: North and South of the Sahara. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006.

    DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748621231.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Armes addresses the sociopolitical history of African filmmaking across the continent, and across the colonial era, exploring film movements and trends, developments in film theory, and changes in national and cultural identity.

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  • Dovey, Lindiwe. African Film and Literature: Adapting Violence to the Screen. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009.

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    In her consideration of film adaptation, Dovey explores the two centers of African cinema: Francophone West Africa and South Africa.

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  • Murphy, David. Postcolonial African Cinema: Ten Directors. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2008.

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    This theoretical analysis explores the varying aesthetics and ideologies of a series of canonical filmmakers, evaluating their impact on African cinema, and film studies as a whole.

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  • Thackway, Melissa. Africa Shoots Back: Alternative Perspectives in Sub-Saharan Francophone African Film. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003.

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    Thackway’s essential guide to African cinema examines the enduring problematics and possibilities of visualizing a space beyond the postcolonial paradigm. Her study centralizes the place of women onscreen, and the position of African cinema in Europe.

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  • Tomaselli, Keyan G. The Cinema of Apartheid: Race and Class in South African Film. Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 1988.

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    Tomaselli provides a thorough analysis of filmmaking in South Africa, and he considers the role of the state as well as the influence of foreign film. His work centralizes the role of racial representation in national film under apartheid.

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Asian

Early and silent cinema classics such as 1915’s The Cheat or 1919’s Broken Blossoms (also known as The Yellow Man and the Girl) established the negative stereotype of the Asian as a signifier of the “yellow peril” of the Orient, i.e., symbolic of desire, violence, consumption, and excess (see Higashi 1994, Marchetti 1994). These films positioned East Asians as sexual/moral threats (the East being framed as a non-Christian, mysterious opium den). Later American films would mimic the paradigm to represent Asians as negative signifiers of various contemporary political threats, from fascism to Communism. Just as the racial polemic binarized white and black, the global politic polarized East and West, Orient and Occident. Orientalism, as discussed by Lee 1999 and Ono and Pham 2008, was theorized as the site of all that was wrong with or secretly desired by the West. This space included not only Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Indian peoples but all who fell between black and white—Filipinos, Hawaiians, and Pacific/Asiatic populations. As Ono and Pham 2008 argues, American war films were often filled with negative images of Asians, which reflected the political dynamic between America and the East; that is, the onscreen representation of race has always depended on the US government’s foreign policy positioning. Asian identities were collapsed into one caricature—the scheming devil, epitomized by Dr. Fu Manchu. While much has changed, many of these traits remain in modern films: see the framing of the female sniper as sexual, demonic assassin in 1987’s Full Metal Jacket (see Parreñas Shimizu 2007). Asian Americans are still rarely represented as sexual if male, instead they are the (no longer evil) geniuses—experts in math, science, or martial arts (see Feng 2002a, Feng 2002b, Ono and Pham 2008). It wasn’t until Miramax brought films such as 1994’s Eat, Drink, Man, Woman into the realm of “tasteful” white middle-class consumption that a new idea of Asian identity as cultural capital emerged (in conjunction with the discourses of multiculturalism and globalization, and the newly powerful Asian economies). Indian American representations are a more recent addition to screen culture and yet, while Indians remain marginalized on Western screens, Indian cinema is now the second largest national film industry in the world. British Indian director Gurinder Chadha is a leading filmmaker of the diaspora whose female-centered films explore denied desires. Bollywood (and its varied dynamics) is much too large a topic to be dealt with here, but as Ganti 2007 notes, its impact is significant and global (as is the horror, torture porn, and martial-arts filmmaking of East Asia—see Yau 2011).

  • Feng, Peter. Identities in Motion: Asian American Film and Video. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002a.

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    Feng explores how Asian Americans filmmakers’ work shapes and is shaped by cinematic images of Asian identity.

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  • Feng, Peter, ed. Screening Asian Americans. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2002b.

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    Feng’s key text charts the history and diversity of Asian representations onscreen and how they contributed to notions of American identity.

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  • Ganti, Tejaswini. “‘And Yet My Heart Is Still Indian’: The Bombay Film Industry and the (H)Indianization of Hollywood.” In Genre, Gender, Race and World Cinema. Edited by Julie F. Codell, 439–457. Oxford: Blackwell, 2007.

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    Ganti explores the transculturation of Bollywood and Hollywood, noting how narratives translate between the two industries and how race operates in these divergent representational schemas.

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  • Higashi, Sumiko. Cecil B. DeMille and American Culture: The Silent Era. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.

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    Higashi examines the history of American cinema and its influence on race, ethnicity, and culture, examining how class, Orientalist narratives and popular culture spectacles were central to the construction of classic Hollywood cinema.

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  • Lee, Robert G. Orientals: Asian Americans in Popular Culture. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1999.

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    Lee discusses the issue of racial mutability in this expert analysis of contradictory yet fixed representations of Asians as Orientals.

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  • Marchetti, Gina. Romance and the “Yellow Peril”: Race, Sex, and Discursive Strategies in Hollywood Fiction. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.

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    Marchetti analyzes Hollywood images of interracial love and Asian identities in this exploration of racial, sexual, and gendered norms and taboos in American culture.

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  • Ono, Kent, and Vincent Pham. Asian Americans and the Media. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2008.

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    This critical text introduces readers to the complexities of Asian American representations. Ono and Pham explore dominant representations by white practitioners and self-representations by Asian Americans, examining how these images have been shaped by their political, cultural, and historical contexts.

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  • Parreñas Shimizu, Celine. The Hypersexuality of Race: Performing Asian/American Women on Screen and Scene. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007.

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    In this work, the representation of Asian American women as sexualized is explored. The contradictions and complexities of racial representations onscreen and onstage are unpacked and works by feminists are considered as alternative frameworks. Parreñas Shimizu questions dominant theories to consider the possibility for female empowerment through performed sexuality.

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  • Yau Shuk-ting, Kinnia. East Asian Cinema and Cultural Heritage: From China, Hong Kong, Taiwan to Japan and South Korea. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

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    Examines how cinema is shaped by East Asian cultures and explores the intersection between film and theater, with particular emphasis on the popular film genres of horror and martial arts.

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LAST MODIFIED: 01/28/2013

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199791286-0127

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