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Remapping the Cold War in Asian Cinemas

334 pages
Amsterdam University Press
This book is about cinema and the cultural Cold War in Asia, set against the larger history of the cultural, political, and institutional linkages between the US, Europe, and Asia at the height of the Cold War. From the popularity of CIA-sponsored espionage films in Hong Kong and South Korea to the enduring Cold War rhetoric of brotherly relations in contemporary Sino-Indian co-production, cinema has always been a focal point of the cultural Cold War in Asia. Historically, both the United States and the Soviet Union viewed cinema as a powerful weapon in the battle to win hearts and minds—not just in Europe, but also in Asia. The Cold War in Asia was, properly speaking, a hot war, with proxy military confrontations between the United States, on one side, and the Soviet Union and China on the other. Amid this political and military turbulence, cataclysmic shifts occurred in the culture and history of Asian cinemas as well as in the latitude of US cultural diplomacy in Asia. The collection of essays in this volume sheds light on the often-forgotten history of the cultural Cold War in Asia. Taken together, the volume’s fifteen chapters examine film cultures and industries in Asia to showcase the magnitude and depth of the Cold War’s impact on Asian cinemas, societies, and politics. By shifting the lens to Asia, the contributors to this volume re-examine the dominant narratives about the global Cold War and highlight the complex and unique ways in which Asian societies negotiated, contested, and adapted to the politics and cultural manifestations of the Cold War.
Author Bio
Sangjoon Lee is an Associate Professor at the School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong. Lee is the author of Cinema and the Cultural Cold War: US Diplomacy and the Origins of the Asian Cinema Network (Cornell University Press, 2020). He edited/co-edited The South Korean Film Industry (University of Michigan Press, 2024), The Routledge Companion to Asian Cinema (2024), Rediscovering Korean Cinema (University of Michigan Press, 2019), and Hallyu 2.0: The Korean Wave in the Age of Social Media (University of Michigan Press, 2015). Lee also guest-edited “Is Netflix Riding the Korean Wave or Vice Versa?” (International Journal of Communication, 2023), “Reorienting Asian Cinema in the Age of the Chinese Film Market (Screen, 2019), and “The Chinese Film Industry: Emerging Debates” (Journal of Chinese Cinemas, 2019). Darlene Machell Espeña is Assistant Professor of Southeast Asian Studies at Singapore Management University (SMU). Her research interests include cinema, dance, culture, and politics in postcolonial Southeast Asia, the cultural history of the Cold War in Southeast Asia, and cultural discourses on education in Singapore. Her writings appear in journals such as Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Asia Pacific Journal of Education, and Asian Studies Review. She is working on her first book project, Imagi(ni)ng Southeast Asia: Cinema, Politics, and the Origins of a Region, which traces the cultural and ideological foundations of Southeast Asia as a region until the establishment of ASEAN in 1967.