Hollywood Asian: Philip Ahn and the Politics of Cross-Ethnic Performance

Originally written as a Ph.D. dissertation at the University of California, Los Angeles, Hollywood Asian is a pioneering study of Philip Ahn (1905-1978), the first Korean American actor in Hollywood and son of a celebrated Korean nationalist An Ch’ang-ho. Drawing upon a wide range of archival documents from the actor’s personal papers and studio memos to files of federal government agencies (State Department and Office of War Information), Chung’s book addresses complex historical, theoretical, and critical issues pertaining to Asian and Asian American representations in American film and television (from the 1930s to the 1970s), well exceeding the scope of a conventional star study.


According to the publisher's Web site: "The first book-length study of Korean identities in American cinema and television, Hollywood Asian investigates the career of Ahn (1905-1978), a pioneering Asian American screen icon and son of celebrated Korean nationalist An Ch'ang-ho. In this groundbreaking scholarly study, Hye Seung Chung examines Ahn's career to suggest new theoretical paradigms for addressing cross-ethnic performance and Asian American spectatorship. Incorporating original material from a wide range of sources, including U.S. government and Hollywood screen archives, Chung's work offers a provocative and original contribution to cinema studies, cultural studies, and Asian American as well as Korean history."


"In this beautifully crafted book, Chung convinces that the career of Korean American actor Philip Ahn offers a veritable history of American racial politics and performance. Remarkable is Chung's deft examination of cross-ethnic performance and of Asian American spectatorship. Writing Ahn into Korean film and cultural history, Hollywood Asian offers an important transnational contribution to Asian American, film, and cultural studies."
—Nancy Abelmann, Professor of Anthropology, Asian American Studies, East Asian Languages, and Cultures University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

"'We have ways of making you talk, G.I.' When the World War II generation of Americans heard those words, it was Philip Ahn talking. A prolific film actor, son of a famous Korean nationalist and a committed political activist in his own right, Ahn was forced to take one stereotypical role after another. But he displayed his virtuosity across the full range of Hollywood pigeonholing, from obsequious, dutiful son to sinister, evil villain. Hye Seung Chung's fascinating and deeply researched book deploys a sharp critical lens to examine Ahn's life and career, thus retrieving from a lost history one of the most interesting and important Asian American actors of the 20th century."
—Bruce Cumings, Professor of History, University of Chicago, and author of North Korea: Another Country

"You'll never again view Philip Ahn in the same light.... Hollywood Asian is meticulously researched, comprising a wealth of secondary text sources and featuring a comprehensive filmography of work by Ahn. In addition, Chung was given access by the Ahn family to primary research material that provides an in-depth and nuanced look into the personal life of the actor, his politics, and his attempt to break into the South Korean film business. This is an excellent and important contribution to the scholarly literature."
—Darrell Y. Hamamoto, Professor of Asian American Studies, University of California, Davis, and co-editor of Countervisions: Asian American Film Criticism

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