Arizona Humanities Presents: Asian Americans in Film and Media, Then and Now

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Depictions of Asia and Asians in film and media have defined perceptions of Asian Americans in the U.S. since the early 20th century. We have seen the “model minority,” “asexual nerd,” “submissive mistress,” “tongue-tied immigrant,” and “kung-fu master” portrayals in movies, cartoons, books, and news for decades. These stereotypes reflect historical inaccuracies, and embody negative characterizations of Asian Americans. Has representation in contemporary pop culture changed? How far have we come, and where are we going? This talk will examine the visual history of Asian Americans in film and media and consider what comes next.

Karen Kuo is an Associate Professor of Asian Pacific American Studies in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University. She focuses on literary and cinematic studies and social and cultural theories of race, gender, and sexuality. Her book, East is West and West is East: Gender, Culture, and Interwar Encounters between Asia and America (Temple University Press, 2012) examines the geopolitical imaginaries of US orientalism in film and literature during the interwar period. Her current projects include an edited anthology on Taiwanese Americans, Remembering the Beautiful Island: Critically Considering Transnational Taiwanese/America, and a monograph on representations and discourses of reproduction and mental illness through Asian/American women’s narratives.

This program is made possible by Arizona Humanities.