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Contemporary Asia Pacific Cinemas: Spatiality, Desire, New Technologies

An increasing number of films from the Asia Pacific region have recently
enjoyed unprecedented success in the international film circuit.  Many
of them have transgressed national boundaries.  Though they still pursue
themes that are politically and historically laced, the works of Wong
Kar-wai, Kitano Takeshi and Jang Sun-woo, for example, do not always
comply with the scope of national allegories which was previously
conceived to be intractable and incontestable.  With transnational
cultural flows and newly re-figured cosmpolitanism permeating the youth
cultures, and national identities taking departures from codes of
archaic orthodoxy, the cultural signposts rendered by the cinemas from
this region boldly resist the (academic) desire to frame the films
primarily through the discourse of the nation.  Many of the film
narratives no longer engage with the tension between tradition and
modernity and they reject nationhood that is being conceived of and
idealized by the state.  In addressing codes of history, family,
development, trauma and memory that are disposed with repression
and violence, the films visualize contemporary spaces of desire in which
imagination, new technologies, and global/local forces play significant
roles.

The special volume of _positions: east asia cultures critique_
(published by Duke University Press) hopes to analyze and re-map the
forms and contours of the cinematic landscape of the Asia Pacific.  One
primary concern is how the cinemas negotiate with the materiality and
subliminality inscribed in the newly emergent technologies, identities,
spaces and the cityscapes.  Although many conferences and books have
previously investigated the processes of production and reception of
visual culture in one national context, this volume explores the spatial
boundaries that redefine the region of the Asia Pacific beyond the
national axioms that figured cultural movements of the 20th Century.
The volume will address the following topics:
1) The significance of new technologies in reshaping the field of
relationships between image, body, space and time.  Increasing
popularity of "Japanimation" films in the region, as well as the use of
video, computers and digitization and what they mean regarding
visuality, representation and simulation.
2) Visualization of sex and sexualities examined in the context of power
and discourse.  The elaboration of queer theories and criticism in
relation to cinemas of Asia Pacific. In other words, how are sexual
desires and pleasures as well as "alterior sexualities" eroticized and
aestheticized in the cinemas of Asia Pacific?  In this section, the
proposers intend to continue the discussion first initiated by films and
academic forum in the "Visualizing Eros" series staged at UCI in May
1998.
3) Urban visions and the cityscapes: new spatial boundaries and
spatialized desires with regard to the globalized and localized forces.
We propose the question: what are the processes involved when ideologies
become monumentalized and mummified, fantasies and visions spatialized,
and panoramas and cityscapes flattened and digitized?

As recent works in film and cultural studies further engage in
provocative dialogues that address new ontological possibilities of
opticality and visuality through new technologies, more innovative and
politicized articulations and stimulations can be made in the
relationship between the studies of film and Asian studies.  The editors
of the special issue of _positions_ strongly believe in strengthening
the relationship between film studies and Asian studies as well as the
one between area studies and ethnic studies.  Coming at the moment of
blurring disciplinary boundaries, the conference will not only attempt
to historicize cinemas, but also to spatialize the new visual events
that are taking increasingly more active role in reshaping the cultures
of the region as we move into the 21st Century.

A conference, scheduled to be held at University of California, Irvine
in October 1999, will precede the publication of the volume.  Because a
substantial publication plan has already been made, the papers presented
and discussed during the conference will promptly be evaluated for
publication.  The conference will ensure that the papers are
collectively consulted, ideas exchanged, and discussions
interarticulated, in order to improve ultimately the publication quality
of the special volume of _positions_.

Guest Editors of -positions- are:
Esther Yau
Roland Tolentino
Kyung Hyun Kim

Submit 4 copies of proposals for articles (between 700 and 800 words) by
February 1, 1999 to:

Kyung Hyun Kim
East Asian Languages and Literatures
University of California
Irvine, CA 92612-6000
email:[log in to unmask]
(Final articles are due by October 1, 1999)

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