De-centering the Cultural Cold War: United States and Asia

AHA Session 22
Thursday, January 6, 2011: 3:00 PM-5:00 PM
Room 102 (Hynes Convention Center)
Elaine Tyler May, University of Minnesota
Kenneth Osgood, Williams College

Session Abstract

This session introduces a new Japanese-language book (also to be published in Korean and Chinese languages in 2010) titled De-Centering the Cultural Cold War: U.S. and Asia (Tokyo: Kokusai-shoin, 2009), and discusses the significance and further potentials of the Cultural Cold War Studies.  Cultural Cold War is a fairly new academic term indicating the East-West competition in non-military fields, such as art, lifestyle, technology, and even people’s feelings and emotions.  As the editor and writer of this book, Tsuchiya will explain the overall significance of the book project, and introduce each chapter.  Two other presenters, Dr. Tanikawa and Dr. Kobayashi, are authors of Chapter 2 and Chapter 8.  They will present on their own research projects, which are developed forms of their book chapters. 

Ten articles included in De-Centering the Cultural Cold War were originally written in English, Korean, Chinese and Japanese languages.  It is a collaboration of American Studies scholars and Asian Studies scholars from the U.S., Korea, Taiwan, and Japan.  Therefore, the first significance of this book lies in its transnational and trans-disciplinary collaboration of U.S. and Asian scholars.  This type of collaboration is still very rare, and we regard this as a first step to build the transnational community of the Cultural Cold War studies.

The second significance of this book lies in, as its title indicates, “de-centering” of the Cultural Cold War in three different ways.  First, it de-centers the Euro-centered perspective of the existing Cultural Cold War studies.  Although several book-length projects had been published on the European context of Cultural Cold War, there has been little done on Asia.  Second, it de-centers the perception of Cultural Cold War as a binary conflict between Soviet Union and the United States.  Vast impact of the Cultural Cold War on the newly independent or decolonizing countries has little been explored.  As Kobayashi’s article evidently shows, Asian countries and people were sometimes targets of U.S. information campaign, but at other times, they were cooperators or even active participants in the U.S. propaganda strategy.  Third, our project complicates the notion of Cultural Cold War by introducing diverse actors, including industries, NPO’s, charitable foundations, and ethnic minorities.  As Tanikawa’s paper will demonstrate, Hollywood film industry and the U.S. government supported each other in cultural diplomacy.  Although Christina Klein (Cold War Orientalism), Donna Alvah (Unofficial Ambassadors) and others have already illuminated the participation of middle-brow Americans and military families in the U.S. Cold War projects, our project further stretches the boundaries of those who participated in the Cultural Cold War.

Each chapter that Tsuchiya will introduce in her presentation will reveal a certain aspect of the Cultural Cold War in U.S., Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Philippines and Laos.  As a whole, we attempt to weave a complicated tapestry of multi-dimensional experiences in different areas to get a more complete picture of the Cultural Cold War.

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