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"No Place for a White Man" : United Artists' Far East Department, 1922-1929

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It has become a common practice to preface any remarks about the cinema of a culture of which one is not a member with the reminder that one speaks as an outsider with all the limitations that that implies. My task will be slightly different in that it will be an attempt to reconstruct the position of the outsider, to explain the strategic and tactical considerations of U.S. film distribution in Asia.

The recognition, within film studies, of the complexity involved in delimiting the national has gone hand in hand with an emergent emphasis on globalization as an increasingly important way in which production and distribution are organized in what Ernest Mandel has dubbed "late capitalism." 2 However the film industry has been heavily reliant on an international organization of its markets from the time of the Lumières onward. If we are to understand the current influences of transnationalism on both the film industry and, more broadly, on cultural production within the contemporary nation-state, we need to contextualize this recent transnationalism within a historical perspective and understand it not as a sudden discontinuous lurch, but as part of an on-going historical process.
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Keywords: Asia; Outsider; U.S. distribution; film studies; late capitalism; transnationalism

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-08-01

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  • Asian Cinema is a seminal journal, which has been published since 1995 by the Asian Cinema Studies Society under the stewardship of Professor John Lent. From 2012 Asian Cinema will be published by Intellect as part of our Film Studies journal portfolio. The journal currently publishes a variety of scholarly material - including research articles, interviews, book and film reviews and bibliographies - on all forms and aspects of Asian cinema. The journal's broad aim is to advance understanding and knowledge of the rich traditions of the various Asian cinemas, thereby making an invaluable contribution to the field of Film Studies in general.
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