May 20, 2019/ 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

Royce Hall 314

The Western as Method: Questions of Indigeneity, Race and Violence in the American and Japanese Frontiers

A Colloquium with Professor Takashi Fujitani

This presentation juxtaposes Clint Eastwood’s critically acclaimed Unforgiven (1992) against Lee Sang-il’s “remake” (Yurusarezaru mono, 2013) of the original as a method for recasting the histories of modern Japan and the U.S. as comparable and coeval settler colonial empires. The speaker will work through the insights and absences in these films to piece together a historical narrative that challenges the nationalist and historicist understandings of the Japanese and American pasts that are commonly found in popular culture and the writings of most historians. The presentation argues that Lee’s version, set in Hokkaidō, offers a more radical and challenging exploration of key themes in political thought taken up by Eastwood -- such as the violence of law, sovereign power, the right to kill, and historical memory and accountability – while foregrounding issues of indigeneity and settler colonialism. While Eastwood’s many Westerns are well known, Yurusarezaru mono is Lee’s only offering in this genre. Lee’s first film, Chong (1998, 2001), is in part based upon his own life growing up as an ethnic Korean in Japan. His more well-known films include Hula Girl (2006), The Villain (Akunin, 2010), and Rage (Ikari, 2016).

About the Speaker:

Takashi Fujitani holds the Dr. David Chu Chair in Asia Pacific Studies at the University of Toronto, where he is also Professor of History. During the Spring Quarter 2019 he is the Paul I Terasaki Chair in U.S.-Japan Relations at UCLA. His major works include: Splendid Monarchy (UC Press, 1996); Race for Empire: Koreans as Japanese and Japanese as Americans During WWII (UC Press, 2011); and Perilous Memories: The Asia Pacific War(s) (co-edited, Duke U. Press, 2001). He is currently working on: Whose ‘Good War’? a Postnationalist History of WWII in the Asia-Pacific; Sovereign Remains: the Emperor and Questions of Sovereignty in Twentieth Century Japan); and Cold War Clint: Asians, “Indians” and Others in an American Political Unconscious.”

Download file: 5.20.19-FUJITANI-FLYER-2.1-0i-jvp.pdf