Since the beginning of 2020, anti-Asian violence saw a sharp increase in Europe and North America, as frustrations about the COVID-19 pandemic were taken out on those marked as Asian or “asiatisch gelesen.” In response to the March 2021 shootings in Atlanta, the Berlin-based network for Asian German perspectives korientation posted the open letter “Atlanta – War da was?” with a broad coalition of Southeast, East, South, and West Asian signatories and organizations in German-speaking areas positioning themselves against anti-Asian racism. The ongoing conversations about Asian racialization frequently link to intersectional questions of gender, class, migrant status, orientalism, and geopolitics. Audiovisual media such as film and television have often been seen as key sources of perpetuating anti-Asian sentiment and reproducing stereotypes, often in reference to Hollywood and English-language media. Examples include Nhi Le’s article “Die Darstellung ostasiatischer Frauen macht mich wütend”; Pocket Hazel’s YouTube video “warum Rassismus gegen Asiaten so ‘normal’ ist”; the ARD-alpha documentary “Ich bin kein Virus! – anti-asiatischer Rassismus in Deutschland.”
Our volume seeks to explore how German and German-language media have contributed to the Western imagination of Asia and Asians in their moving pictures. We invite contributors to reflect on the roles that film (feature film, short film, documentary, etc.), television, and other audiovisual media have played in directing, regulating, and controlling the exchange of people(s), information, culture, and affect. At present, there is very little focused research on Asian German film studies, besides the forthcoming volume East Asian-German Cinema: The Transnational Screen, 1919 to the Present (ed. Joanne Miyang Cho, Routledge 2021). Directors like Fritz Lang, Ulrike Ottinger, and Doris Dörrie have repeatedly turned toward Asia in their films, and these works are relatively well-researched. At the same time, these directors’ fascination with India, Japan, and China reflect a larger pattern of imbalance wherein Western imaginations of Asians in moving pictures still predominantly feature these three countries while neglecting other diverse cultures and regions in East, Southeast, South, Central, and West Asia. This edited volume thus aims to assemble English-language contributions on the vast number of lesser-known, previously under-researched Asian German films produced since the 1910s. Our project includes all German-speaking countries and regions and their interactions with Asian cultures, traditions, and (diasporic) populations. Contributors are encouraged to submit proposals based on the lists the three co-editors have compiled: “Asian-German Filmography: A Teaching Guide” (https://mgp.berkeley.edu/2021/06/04/asian-german-filmography/) and “Asian-German Filmography (Long List)” (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1iYons8l0mGYGAv2YQTLjbyInGkza-4LO/edit#).
We hope that the publication of this volume will promote Asian German film and media studies as a significant field of research and teaching, as well as encourage film distribution networks to digitize Asian German films from media archives, increase the availability of existing films, and produce more films related to Asia and Asian diaspora in German-speaking countries. Depending on the number of proposals accepted, there might be opportunities for more than one edited volume, each with a different focus.
Potential topics include but are not limited to:
- Orientalism, racial discourses, and (limits of) representation; Asian stereotypes and tropes, i.e. model minority, Madame Butterfly, Dragon Lady, lotus and cherry blossoms, tiger mom, perpetual foreigner, “mail-order brides,” cigarette mafias
- Migration, immigration, diaspora, and (self-)identity
- Nation, nationalism, and other (imagined) communities; differentiated experiences of Asians, regionally, nationally, and/or ethnically
- Heimat, the familiar and the foreign, inclusion and exclusion, departure and homecoming
- Gender, desire, interracial romance, and alternative sexualities
- Class and social mobility
- Generational conflicts, tradition, youth culture, and protest
- Globalization, capital flow, and commerce
- Diplomatic relations, political ideology, war, and colonialism
- Religion, spirituality, spectrality, ghosts, and the occult
- Censorship and self-censorship
- Transnational co-productions and international film collaborations; popular perceptions of and interactions between Bollywood, Huallywood, and the German film industry
- Cross-cultural film and media inspiration and adaptations, including connections between Asian American and German-language film and media
All contributions are welcome, though we especially encourage:
- Auteur(e) studies on the specific style of prolific German, Asian, and Asian diasporic filmmakers;
- Region-specific analysis that considers films related to Austria, Switzerland, and other minor German-speaking regions outside of Germany, as well as films on Central Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Asian-Pacific region, which are traditionally underrepresented in scholarly publications;
- Media archaeological studies that address historical patterns, as well as gaps in Asian German film and media production by analyzing rare films, lost films, avant-garde films, and documentaries, especially those that have yet to be addressed by academic scholarship;
- Theoretical reflections that consider how existing frameworks of analysis, such as apparatus theory, screen studies, adaptation theory, ghost and spectrality studies, post-colonialism, transnationalism, translation theory, etc. apply in the context of Asian German film and media;
- Theoretical reflections on the dominant metaphors that describe Asian German interactions, such as “encounters,” “Begegnungen,” “entanglements,” etc.
- Media-specific analysis on the unique landscapes of television and new media;
- Pedagogical analysis on teaching Asian German film and media;
- Industry-related analysis that considers the testimonials, manifestos, and philosophies of individual filmmakers, film festival curators, and film archivists, as well as other practical aspects of film production, distribution, and exhibition;
- Comparative analysis that considers how Asian German Studies differs from Asian American Studies, as well as cross references between these two fields.
Potential contributors should submit a chapter proposal of 300-500 words and a 100-word biography to Qinna Shen (email@example.com), Zach Ramon Fitzpatrick (firstname.lastname@example.org), and Qingyang Freya Zhou (email@example.com) by February 28, 2022. Decisions will be given shortly after. The editors have been in touch with Camden House and will submit the paper proposal to be considered for the series “Screen Cultures: German Film and the Visual.”