This thematic double issue of Studies in the Humanities addresses globalization as a blossoming of inclusive systems of transnational capitalism, multicultural traffic, and networking technology, which has also generated symptoms of exclusion related to migration/refuge, precarious life, and various catastrophes that debunk the holistic universality of one rainbow global village. Political dialectics has turned into the absolute antagonism between the ‘soft’ ethical inclusion of differences in the whole and the ‘hard’ ethical backlash from its excluded remnants. Multiculturalism and terrorism, neoliberalism and fundamentalism, compassion and hate, human rights and bare life interlock like two sides of the same coin. The more connection, the more contamination. And now, as Brexit and Trumpism show, within the integrated global whole itself emerges the weird fusion of far-right and far-left mindsets against the status quo of problematic global capitalism and malfunctioning liberal democracy.
Then how does cinema address today’s global life? This special double issue proposes this question in the frame of ‘global East Asia,’ with its Asian identity taking on a sort of compatible locality that is not absolutely confined in Asian particularity. Locality is less the essentialist mark of a specific time-space than a contingent springboard for global perfomativity. Here, a traditional community gives way to a permeable, malleable network, and subjectivity as fixed identity changes into agency for contingently adaptable modulation. ‘Global East Asian cinema’ could then be termed for critical engagement with global phenomena and their influences on the notions of community and subjectivity as reflected or allegorized in the East Asian context. What is especially interesting is the theme of abjection: once characters lose their sociopolitical subjectivity, cast out of their community, they struggle to regain their original identity or gain new subjectivity. They become agents in the sense of acting to fulfill a mission which can be not only homecoming but also revenge or a terroristic attack, sacrifice or a gift-giving of themselves. This narrative structure is prevalent in films with the motifs of journey, migration, bare life, coming-of-age, midlife crisis, secret agency, networking, cyborg, and disaster, more or less resonating with global conditions of connected yet vulnerable life.
This issue thus hopes to be an intriguing selection of articles centering on abjection in the broadest sense of the term. Catastrophic events, natural or industrial, from earthquake and tsunami to zombification and nuclear crisis, could be an easy window to start with, since the cinema of catastrophe often symptomatizes a political deadlock of the current global world, the impossible utopian change in various forms of catastrophic imagination. But this cinema can also draw attention to an alternative potential direction of ethics irreducible to collective politics, when biopolitical abject figures become contingent agents of new relations through commonality without community, solidarity without unity. Abject agency would then inspire us to challenge commonsensical global ethics on hospitality, tolerance, pity or hate and violence through concrete films, opening room for networking on the edge of the global regime beyond the problematic ‘soft/hard’ ethical frame.
For the consistency of the cinematic corpus and the limited space, this special double issue focuses on narrative features made after 2000 that are to some extent globally circulated or available in the mainstream market or film festivals. The scope is, however, not limited to the following items:
- Films on actual disasters such as the Great Sichuan Earthquake, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, and the Fukushima nuclear accident
- Films with apocalyptic settings; horror movies with networked contagion
- Road movies on coming-of-age, midlife crises, life-changing experience; films on journey or with the motif of migration/deracination
- Films on (cognitive) capitalism, casual labor, precarious life
- Films on (war on) terror, control/militancy, secret agency, vengeance mission
- Recommendable directors include Jia Zhangke, Xu Zheng, Vicky Zhao, Peter Chan, Tsui Hark, Xue Xialou, LI Luo, Pema Tseden, Zhou Hao, Wu Wenguang, Zou Xueping; Zhang Lu, Bong Joon-ho, Park Chan-wook, Yeon Sang-ho; Kurosawa Kiyoshi, Sono Sion, even in animators like Kon Satoshi, Otomo Katsuhiro.
The double issue of Studies in The Humanities on the subject of global East Asian Cinema, is guest edited by Seung-hoon Jeong, Assistant Professor of Cinema Studies at New York University Abu Dhabi. He wrote Cinematic Interfaces: Film Theory After New Media (Routledge, 2013), co-translated Jacques Derrida’s Acts of Literature in Korean (Moonji, 2013), and co-edited The Global Auteur: The Politics of Authorship in 21st Century Cinema (Bloomsbury, 2016). He is currently working on global cinema related to multiculturalism, terrorism, networks, and catastrophes.
The special double issue is scheduled to be out in December, 2017. Articles and essays are invited by August 1st, 2017. The manuscript (7,500 words in length), double-spaced, in 12-pt. Times New Roman font using Chicago style of documentation. Essays as well as enquiries regarding possible essay topics should be electronically submitted to seunghoon.jeong[at]nyu.edu. Please do not include your name anywhere on your manuscript. Place it in a separate attachment. Also please do not use embedded endnotes or footnotes. Footnotes should be at the end of the essay with no page division between them and the text or the Works Cited list that should follow it. You can find more information at the MLA Directory of Periodicals, where our acceptance rate is listed as 16%-25%. This peer-viewed journal is indexed in the annual MLA Bibliography, the Film Literature Index, the American Humanities Index, An Index to Book Reviews in the Humanities, and the Journal of Abstracts of English Studies. Full text of the journal is available online in multiple GALE and EBSCO databases.