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Cold War Clint: How Asia Made a Hollywood Icon and How He Imagined Asia

Date: 03/10/2014

Time: 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM

Location: 125 Nolte Center for Continuing Education

Cost: Free


This 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.


Dr. 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.) He has held numerous grants and fellowships, including from the John S. Guggenheim Foundation, American Council of Learned Societies, Stanford Humanities Center, and Social Science Research Council. He is also editor of the series Asia Pacific Modern (UC Press). His latest book was recently selected as a 2012 runner-up for the American Studies Association’s John Hope Franklin Prize (best book in American Studies). He is currently working on a book that assesses the locations of sovereignty in Japan following the postwar shift to what is commonly described as a “symbolic monarchy.”




  • Name: Saymoukda Vongsay
  • E-mail: vong0018@umn.edu
  • Phone: 612-625-4813
  • Sponsored by: Critical Asian Studies, Asian American Studies, Institute for Advanced Study

More information: http://ias.umn.edu/2014/03/10/fujitani/

Disability Options:

To request disability accommodations, please contact Saymoukda Vongsay at 612-625-4813 or vong0018@umn.edu or Sharon Fischlowitz at 612-624-6148 or sfisch@umn.edu

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