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27 February 2012

Fountains of Culture: Hollywood, MacArthur, and the American Reconstruction of Japan after World War II

Professor Hiroshi Kitamura
Associate Professor of History
The College of William and Mary, Virginia, USA

Date: 27 Feb 2012 (Monday)
Time: 4 pm -5:30 pm
Venue: T7, Meng Wah Complex, HKU

Discussant: Dr. Tim Gruenewald (Acting Programme Director of American Studies)

This presentation will explore the U.S.-led Allied reconstruction of Japan after World War II through a study of Hollywood. Instead of examining the U.S. Occupation from the standpoint of political, legal, and business reform, it turns to a prominent cultural institution and looks at the ways in which its far-reaching cinematic campaign helped transform Japan from a warring Axis empire to a democratic and pro-American nation. Relying on official government and corporate documents, trade papers, fan magazines, and oral interviews collected in Japan and the United States, I will specifically discuss the politics of Occupation censorship, Hollywood's engagement with exhibitors and fan clubs, and the response of the Japanese film industry to the tidal wave of "Americanization." Through an in-depth examination of U.S. cinema in Occupied Japan, I hope to offer new insight on the hegemonic role popular culture plays in international relations and the ways in which local (Japanese) agents facilitate global (U.S.) processes in an era many have referred to as the "American century."

About the Speaker:
Hiroshi Kitamura is Associate Professor of History at the College of William and Mary (Virginia, USA). He is the author of Screening Enlightenment: Hollywood and the Cultural Reconstruction of Defeated Japan (Cornell University Press, 2010), which won the 16th Shimizu Hiroshi Award from the Japanese Association for American Studies. He is currently working on two projects: a study of transnational Japanese cinema of the 1950s and 1960s and a relational history of Hollywood and East Asian cinemas during the Cold War.

The talk is co-sponsored by the American Studies and the Japanese Studies Programme, the School of Modern Languages and Cultures.

All are welcome.

Japanese Studies HKU