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Critical Asian Studies: Cold War Clint, with Tak Fujitani, Mar. 10, 2014

COLD WAR CLINT: How Asia Made a Hollywood Icon,
and How He Imagined Asia

March 10, 2014, 3:00pm
125 Nolte Center

Asian American Studies commemorative talk by Dr. Takashi Fujitani

fujitani eastwood cropThis talk argues that while rarely if ever acknowledged, Clint Eastwood’s entire film career has been tightly intertwined with questions of Asia, and particularly the Cold War and post-Cold War relationship of the United States to the region. To be sure, while critics know that the film which made Eastwood famous was a work inspired by Akira Kurosawa (Fist Full of Dollars), and while his two Iwo Jima films (Letters from Iwo Jima and Flags of our Fathers) and Gran Torino obviously concern Asia and Asian Americans, there is little critical recognition that throughout his career Eastwood has had a consistent preoccupation with making sense out of the contradiction between America’s claims to save Asia and Asian from various enemies, and the actual violence it has perpetuated in the region. Eastwood’s strategies have been very appealing, including to liberal peace organizations, because they tend to combine an anti-establishment, populist perspective, with universalist principles about justice and racial equality. This presentation interrogates the limits of what can be recognized as not only Eastwood’s, but “white” America’s claims about Asia and Asians, by placing Eastwood’s films in relationship to America’s changing relationship to Asia, the nation’s postindustrial decline,  and the ways in racism continues to be reproduced in his films and in real life even as it is formally disavowed. 

Takashi FujitaniDr. Takashi Fujitani is the Dr. David Chu Professor, Professor of History, and Director in Asia Pacific Studies at the University of Toronto. Before moving to Toronto he taught at UC, Santa Cruz and UC, San Diego. His research focuses especially on modern and contemporary Japanese history, East Asian history, Asian American history, and transnational history (primarily U.S./Japan and Asia Pacific). Much of his past and current research has centered on the intersections of nationalism, colonialism, war, memory, racism, ethnicity, and gender, as well as the disciplinary and area studies boundaries that have figured our ways of studying these issues. His major works include:  Splendid Monarchy (UC Press, 1996; Japanese version, NHK Books, 1994; Korean translation, Yeesan Press, 2003); Race for Empire: Koreans as Japanese and Japanese as Americans During WWII (UC Press, 2011; Japanese and Korean versions forthcoming from Iwanami Shoten and Il Cho Kak);  Perilous Memories: The Asia Pacific War(s) (co-edited, Duke U. Press, 2001); and Transcolonial Film Coproductions in the Japanese Empire: Antinomies in the Colonial Archive, a special issue of Cross-Currents:East Asian History and Culture Review (co-edited, December 2012.) 

Dr. Fujitani’s book discussion on March 11

Critical Asian Studies Collaborative
CAS Collaborative Events

Panel discussion with Hmong actors in Gran Torino, held at the IAS in 2009

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