Transoceanic Embodiments: Yellowness as Filmic Technology

Transoceanic Embodiments: Yellowness as Filmic Technology

André Keiji Kunigami - Carolina Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Romance Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Friday, November 8, 2019 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm
Room 241, Rosenkranz Hall See map
115 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511

In the modernizing context of the early twentieth century, intellectuals from South America to East Asia addressed the increasing importance of the movies for the transformation of embodied attitudes. Seen by local elites as a pedagogical apparatus, film delivered promises of becoming modern through its mimetic power over the spectators’s bodies. In this talk I will propose that, at the intercrossing between the dissatisfaction and hopes for film displayed by intellectuals in Taishō Japan, such as Murayama Tomoyoshi, and Brazil’s post-slavery First Republic discourse on film, such as that of the film magazine Cinearte, lies a key aspect of the role of filmic perception in the transoceanic circulation of the idea of the yellow body and its usefulness to the social (re)production of modernity. Not only film becomes a technology that grants visibility to race as a temporal category—as if modern film could “whiten” the physical world—but looking at how film enthusiasts placed the medium in an intimate relation to the gendered yellow body, it is possible to argue that the racial category of yellowness emerges, itself, as a filmic technology: a temporal regime of appearance. In light of transoceanic debates happening in post-slavery Brazil on the Asian body, the talk will explore these links that expose, and possibly subvert, the futurity invested in the medium as a racial technology of spectatorship.

André Keiji Kunigami is currently a Carolina Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Romance Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is currently working on his book manuscript, tentatively titled: Transoceanic Spectatorship: Film, Phenomenology, and The Problem of Embodiment Between Brazil and Japan.