Date of Award

8-2019

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

History

First Advisor

Dr. Anise K. Strong

Second Advisor

Dr. Victor Xiong

Third Advisor

Dr. Nathan Tabor

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Shu Yang

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access

Abstract

Existing scholarship on ethnic representation in the American film industry most prominently features Black and Latinx subject matters, with little attention devoted to Asian American depictions. In contrast, this study tracks the use of persistent stereotypes in the American film industry directed at East-Asian immigrants and the influence American racism in popular media has on the emergence of a Pan-ethnic East-Asian American identity. The first appearance of a cooperative Pan-ethnic minority group materializes during the Yellow Power Movement of the 1960s, which is followed by the emergence of East-Asian film direction en force. Analysis of these films and in the historical events relevant to East-Asian identity are determined through cultural historical and social historical methodologies. In particular, symbolic interactionism and elements of social conflict theory are predominantly used in this work to interpret the complex messages within film entertainment and to argue for the significance of mass media as a platform of cultural and social identities. This work concludes that popular media is utilized to great effect to impart race as both a separatist ideology and a cooperative one, depending on the message the director intends. This work contributes to historical film scholarship by determining that East-Asian communities were active participants in the establishment of a Pan-ethnic East-Asian American identity and that they did so through the use of popular media as a means to disseminate their message.

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