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Gravensteen Lecture | Friday 07 Dec | The Western as Method: Questions of Indigeneity, Race and Violence in the American and Japanese Frontiers

Friday 7 December 2018
Gravensteen Lectures
Pieterskerkhof 6
2311 SR Leiden

This presentation juxtaposes Clint Eastwoods critically acclaimed Unforgiven (1992) against Lee Sang-ils 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. Prof. Fujitani 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 Lees version, set in Hokkaid, 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 Eastwoods many Westerns are well known, Yurusarezaru mono is Lees only offering in this genre. Lees 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).

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