UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

(E)race : symbolic ethnicity and the Asian image Lee, Stephen


This thesis examines why and how dominant Asian images continue to permeate cinema through the reinforcement of Asian symbols and icons. Chapter one develops a system model to explain the communicative and social properties of Asian representation. Chapters two and three show how dominant cinema and Asian-North American alternative cinema follow the same communicative and social models which, in turn, lead to stereotypical Asian images. Using the communication theories of Andrew Tudor, the sociological theories of Herbert Gans and the theories of Orientalism of Edward Said, the thesis shows how historical Asian icons, continually used in cinema, are symptoms of a society that is moving closer to a homogenous culture. In effect, the Asian identity is becoming deculturalized. The argument is made that by examining the issue of Asian identity through cinematic and social theory, Asian North American cultural producers can develop a critical self-evaluation beyond what exists at present.

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