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    The Transpacific Partnership (TPP): A Panel Discussion with USC Professor Saori Katada, Daniel Lynch, & David Kang

    “Transpacific Intimacies” Film Screenings: Three Films

    Organized by Feng-Mei Heberer (PhD Candidate, USC School of Cinematic Arts)

    With generous support from the USC School of Cinematic Arts

    The Pacific Rim has attracted new attention ever since President Barack Obama called it a rising center of global power. “Transpacific Intimacies” responds to the attention the New Pacific has recently gained and offers a different perspective on the much-hailed new economic, political, and cultural opportunities arising from power shifts around the Pacific Rim. This special 3-day film event features a selection of narrative and documentary films from Asia and Asian America that rewrite the abstract concepts of nationhood and citizenship from the concrete perspective of people from the Transpacific region today. How do intimate stories, loving bodies, and curious feelings travel alongside the dominant flows of money, commodities, and workforce? How do they challenge and also maintain a deep-seated East-West dichotomy that continues to dominate a common sense partition of the world?

    The three films that will be featured include: 

    Seeking Asian Female (Debbie Lum, USA 2012, 84min, HD, English/Mandarin with English Subtitles)

    Film Website

    Friday, March 7, 7pm

    The Albert and Dana Broccoli Theatre, School of Cinematic Arts, SCA112 

    Followed by a Q&A with Debbie Lum




    Seeking Asian Female is the story of an Asian American filmmaker and her unlikely friendship with one of her worst nightmares: a white American man with a hopeless case of “yellow fever” who seeks – and appears to find online! – his perfect, exotic young bride from China. This feature documentary captures the newlyweds' attempt to build a marriage from scratch and reveals both troubling and humorous complications for all three: husband, wife, and filmmaker.


    Debbie Lum is a San Francisco-based filmmaker. Lum has worked as an editor and producer on many award-winning documentary and fiction films. Seeking Asian Female is her feature-length directing debut. She recently completed the PBS Producer’s Academy, holds an M.F.A. in Cinema from San Francisco State University and a B.A. in Religious Studies from Brown University.


    RSVP Information can be found at USC SCA Website



    In the Family (Patrick Wang, USA 2011, 169min, 35mm, English), 

    Film Website


    Friday, Feb 28, 5pm


    The Albert and Dana Broccoli Theatre, School of Cinematic Art, SCA112



    Plus filmmaker Patrick Wang will be present!





    Written, directed, produced, and co-starred by Patrick Wang himself, In The Family tells the story of same-sex couple Joey (played by Wang himself) and Cody and their six year old son Chip. Set in Tennessee, the plot begins with the family's everyday life in which Joey works as a contractor and Cody as a teacher. However, the loving intimacy between the three is violently interrupted when Cody, Chip's biological father, dies in a fatal car accident. Now, Joey has to face a custody battle with Cody's sister over whose right it is to raise the boy. The legal system, social prejudice, U.S. Southern culture, queer sociality, and interracial love are just some of the major topics underlying the dense narrative of Wang's masterpiece. Yet they are never explicitly addressed nor incorporated into a politics of identity and civil rights but rather framed as a part of our complex everyday reality that we hereby learn to recognize and decipher.



    Patrick Wang graduated at MIT with a degree in Economics and a concentration in Music and Theatre Arts. In The Family is his first feature film. It was nominated as Best Feature for the Independent Spirit Award and won multiple awards, among them the “Golden Hammer” Award from “Hammer to Nail,” the online film magazine, and Best Narrative Feature awards at the San Diego Asian Film Festival, the Spokane International Film Festival, and the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival. Wang also was named by Filmmaker Magazine as one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film.”






    Friday, March 7, 4pm



    The Albert and Dana Broccoli Theatre, School of Cinematic Art, SCA112 




    Plus reception hosted by the Vietnamese Student Association to follow in the Harold Lloyd Lobby 






    A third screening will be curated by YxineFF, the first Vietnamese online Film Festival, and offer recent award-winning short films from Vietnam and Cambodia.




    YxineFF (Yxine Film Fest) is an annual online international short film festival targeting young independent filmmakers and cinema lovers. As a a voluntary, non-profit and independent project initiated by a handful of Vietnamese and Vietnamese overseas cultural practitioners, YxineFF’s first edition commenced in May 2010 and has since attracted more than 2,5 million views per year



    About the OrganizerFeng-Mei Heberer is a PhD candidate in Critical Studies at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, where she works on Asian transnational filmmakers. She is curating several Asian film festivals both in the U.S. and Germany.




    Wednesday, DECEMBER 11th

    Elizabeth DeLoughrey,
    The Sea is Rising: Narrating Climate Change in the Pacific

    12:00 – 2:00 PM
    | 445 Kaprielian Hall | University Park Campus

    With generous support from the USC Department of American Studies & Ethnicity (ASE) 

    Lunch provided, RSVP to cbaik@usc.edu


    Twenty years ago, the Tongan anthropologist Epeli Hau`ofa published his deeply influential essay “Our Sea of Islands,” arguing that the legacies of colonial belittlement that render the Pacific as “islands in a far sea” need to be replaced with a more accurate and world-enlarging view. Instead, he argued, we must recognize the primacy of the largest ocean on the planet which facilitated both the legacies of Pacific voyaging as well as contemporary circuits of globalization, rendering the region as “a sea of islands” better known as Oceania. Hau`ofa’s work made a tremendous contribution to the fields of indigenous, cultural and literary studies of the region. While Hau`ofa was concerned with the ecological health of the ocean, he could not have foreseen the ways in which climate change, particularly sea-level rising, has transformed islands that are in fact threatened by the expansion of the sea, faced with a new era of what has increasingly been termed “carbon colonialism.” The dramatic changes to the geographies of low-lying atolls in the Pacific have generated an unprecedented body of cultural narratives that are translating the urgency of climate change mitigation to a global audience, creating a new oceanic imaginary. This paper will explore the rise in documentaries that are visualizing the challenges faced by island communities such as Tokelau, Tuvalu and Kiribati as they adapt and, increasingly, migrate in response to the erosion and salinization of their lands, and raise questions as to the various narrative methods these texts employ, considering how they contribute to the visual production of climate change discourse in the global north


    Elizabeth DeLoughrey is an Associate Professor in the English Department at UCLA. She is the author of Routes and Roots: Navigating Caribbean and Pacific Island Literatures (2007 U Hawai`i Press)and the co-editor of the volumes Postcolonial Ecologies: Literature and the Environment (2010 Oxford UP), Caribbean Literature and the Environment: Between Nature and Culture (2005 U Virginia Press) as well as the special journal issues New Literatures Review (2011) (on island literatures) and Interdisciplinary Studies of Literature and the Environment (ISLE) (on postcolonial ecocriticism). She is currently editing a collection called Global Ecologies: Postcolonial Approaches to the Environmental Humanities and writing a manuscript about climate change, empire, and islands.




    For more information, contact Crystal Baik @ cbaik@usc.edu

    or visit http://dornsife.usc.edu/transpacific-studies

    Hemispheric Graduate Student Initiative (HEMI GSI) Conference

    Na-Young Lee
    ,Postcolonial Subjects of Japanese Military ‘Comfort Women’: Reconstructing Identities, Shifting Boundaries


    12:00 – 2:00 PM | 445 Kaprielian Hall | University Park Campus

    With generous support from the USC Department of American Studies & Ethnicity (ASE) 


    Lunch provided, RSVP to cbaik@usc.edu


    In this talk, Na-Young Lee explores the ways in which Japanese military “comfort women” have changed and reconstructed their identities, especially in relationship to the historical trajectory of the Korean women’s movement, as well as women’s testimonies. Lee argues that women, who suffered both from the Japanese military sexual slave system during Japanese colonization in Korea and from Korean patriarchy system that has continued post- liberation, have transformed their own identities from victims to transnational activists, and from hidden ghosts to historical subjects. Within the past twenty or so years, women have been actively engaged in movements against imperialism, colonialism, militarism, and patriarchy across national boundaries. Particularly, by focusing on the weekly “Wednesday Demonstration” in front of Seoul’s Japanese embassy, and through the formation of the Butterfly Fund (led by former Japanese “comfort” women), Lee describes “grandma” (halmoni in Korean), not as a helpless victim, but as a symbol of peace and women’s rights across time and space.

    Na-Young Lee
    is Associate Professor of Sociology at Chung-Ang University in Seoul, and a Visiting Scholar of the Department of Sociology at the University of Southern California (USC). Since graduating from the Department of Women’s Studies at the University of Maryland in 2006 with dissertation titled “Construction of U.S. Camptown Prostitution: Empire, Nation, and Resistance,” she has developed wide ranging research interests, such as politics of representation, political economy of globalization, post/colonialism, gendered nationalism, sexuality, and women’s cross-national movements. Lee has published many books and articles in Korean and English, covering subjects, such as “comfort women,” U.S. military bases, prostitution, gendered space, women’s oral history, and migration. In addition, as an active participant in the field of Japanese military sexual slavery, and the anti-prostitution and anti-US military prostitution movements, she has served on the boards of various professional associations for Women’s Studies, Sociology, and Cultural Studies in Korea. Her publications include Feminist Oral History: Deconstructing Institutional Knowledge (co-editor) (2012)’ Post/Modern Asia and Women (co-author) (2011); “Listening Experiences of Military Prostitute: Anxiety of Post/Colonality and Im/Possibility of Ethical Representation,” (2011); “Women’s Movement for/on ‘Comfort Women’: Historical Present in the Context of Postcolonial Nation-State.” (2010); “Radical Feminism and Sexuality: Theorizing History and Sexuality.” (2009); and “The Construction of Military Prostitution in South Korea during the U.S. Military Rule, 1945-1948.” (2007). 


    Wednesday, OCTOBER 23

    Brian Bernards,
    Imagining the Nanyang: On National Culture, Postcolonial Archipelagoes, and the Idea(s) of Southeast Asia

    12:00 – 2:00 PM | 445 Kaprielian Hall | University Park Campus

    With generous support from the USC Department of American Studies & Ethnicity (ASE) 

    Lunch provided, RSVP to cbaik@usc.edu


    Nanyang, the “South Seas,” is the traditional Chinese term for Southeast Asia.  Framed by a history of Chinese travel, migration, settlement, and localization in Southeast Asia, the term evolves from signifying a space of “southern barbarians” in the continental Chinese imagination to express a regional network and archipelagic itinerary of cultural affiliation for settler communities (and their descendants) in postcolonial narratives on and from Southeast Asia. Writing the South Seas traces the transcolonial expression of the Nanyang in modern Chinese literature and explores its transnational and translingual articulations in postcolonial literature from Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.  Transcending exclusionary and homogenizing forces of nation, race, and ethnicity, Chinese and Southeast Asian authors invoke the Nanyang to recognize sites, types, and moments of colonial encounter, ethnic and linguistic creolization, and place-based cultural, political, and ecological activism. Their narratives rewrite dominant paradigms of national culture that repress or elide these “mixed histories” under discourses of race, indigeneity, diaspora, assimilation, and even multiculturalism.


    Brian Bernards
    is Assistant Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Southern California. With Shu-mei Shih and Chien-hsin Tsai, he is co-editor of Sinophone Studies: A Critical Reader(Columbia U P, 2013). His work has also been published in Postcolonial Studies and the Sun Yat-sen Journal of Humanities. Along with Duncan Williams and Velina Hasu Houston, Brian is a co-organizer of Critical Mixed-Race Studies: A Transpacific Approach, a Mellon-Sawyer Seminar on the Comparative Study of Cultures at USC (2013-14).  He was a visiting scholar at the National University of Singapore's Asia Research Institute from 2008-09, where he conducted research for his current manuscript project on the Nanyang, the "South Seas," in Chinese and Southeast Asian postcolonial literature.   



    Tuesday, APRIL 30

    Wing Tek Lum, Poetry Reading

    5:00 – 7:00 PM | Richard Ide Memorial Room | Taper Hall of Humanities, 4th Floor |  University Park Campus


    Poet Wing Tek Lum will be reading from his book, The Nanjing Massacre. Wing Tek Lumʼs poems capture all perspectives of this 1937 tragedy—from the weary, casually cruel Japanese soldiers to the uncomprehending child victims, and from the desperate, helpless parents and the brutalized “comfort women” to the bloodless yet vicious bureaucrats of death. Drawing on published histories, memoirs, photographic collections, and oral histories, Lum composes testimony after testimony for the silenced—poetic memorials that also provide “some measure of revenge” against the victors. At key moments, he also broadens the frame of reference, linking the crimes in China to the atrocities committed since then at different times, on different continents. Massacres, he suggests, bear a family resemblance—the human family. But The Nanjing Massacre is much more than a chamber of horrors. Lumʼs spare and meticulous verse offers up vivid, memorable, and even beautiful images, and many of the poems are mini-narratives, suspenseful and compelling. The result is a gallery of disturbing portraits that nevertheless move us through their artistry and truth.


    Wing Tek Lum
     is a Honolulu businessman and poet. His first collection of poetry, Expounding the Doubtful Points, was published by Bamboo Ridge Press in 1987. With Makoto Ooka, Joseph Stanton, and Jean Yamasaki Toyama, he participated in a collaborative work of linked verse, which was published as What the Kite Thinks by Summer Session, University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa, in 1994


    Saturday, APRIL 27

    Troubled Ocean: Filmmakers Imagine the Pacific

    12:00 – 9:00 PM Norris Cinema Theatre Frank Sinatra Hall | University Park Campus






    The Pacific has a vivid hold on the European and American imagination as a paradise, as a vast region of exploration, as a mystery. It has also been a place of conquest, colonization and war. In a one-day festival, screenings and discussions with filmmakers John Sayles and Vilsoni Hereniko, scholars Viet Nguyen and David Kang and members of the community will address themes of the Pacific. The juxtaposition of three films dealing, respectively, with the Philippines, Fiji and Korea will connect seemingly disparate times and places of the Pacific under a common history.


    John Sayles, Vilsoni Hereniko, and Viet Nguyen



    Watch the interview with John Sayles and Vilsoni Hereniko on Youtube



    Schedule of Events

    12:20 PM: The Land Has Eyes 
    Directed by Vilsoni Hereniko, Fiji, 87 minutes
     Vilsoni Hereniko will present his film, The Land Has Eyes, the first indigenous feature film written and directed by a Fiji citizen.The film explores the British colonial administration in Rotuma (the Fiji Islands) during the 1960s and ’70s and the political corruption and local violence that resulted from the colonial administration’s lack of understanding about the local people and customs.

    2:15 PM: Amigo 
    Directed by John Sayles, 124 minutes
    Renowned independent filmmaker John Sayles will present his film Amigo, the first American feature film to tackle a crucial but forgotten chapter in American history—the American colonization of the Philippines, which cost one million Filipino lives and was as divisive to Americans as the Vietnam War.

    4:30 PM: Panel Discussion and Reading with John Sayles and Vilsoni Hereniko

    Featuring filmmakers John Sayles and Vilsoni Hereniko. Moderated by Professor Viet Nguyen. John Sayles will also read from his novel A Moment in the Sun, about the Filipino struggle against the American colonial presence.

    5:15 PM: Reception, Queen’s Courtyard 

    6 PM: Sunny 
    Directed by Lee Jun-ik, 126 minutes
    Lee Jun-ik’s Sunny is a big-budget Korean epic about the Korean participation as an American ally in the Vietnam War, little known to Americans but fundamental to the transformation of South Korea.


    Thursday, MARCH 7

    Cathy Schlund-Vials, Re-Membering the Khmer Rouge: Cambodian American Memory Work

    4:30 – 6:30 PM 460 Kaprielian Hall | University Park Campus


    Between 1975 and 1979, under the rule of the Khmer Rouge, it is estimated that 1.7 million Cambodians died as a result of execution, starvation, and forced labor, constituting roughly 21 to 25 percent of the extant population. Now in 2012, this history of genocide—commonly referred to as the period of “The Killing Fields” for those outside Cambodia—remains contested and unresolved. Despite the formation of a U.N./War Crimes Tribunal and the indictment of five Khmer Rouge leaders, only one person has been sentenced for crimes against humanity. Hence, though more than thirty years has passed since the deposal of the Khmer Rouge from power, justice has yet to be served in an international court.

    The legacy of the genocide, the absence of state-sanctioned justice, and the memory of “the Killing Fields” are primary reference points for this talk, which examines the ways in which Cambodian American cultural production is rooted in political and politicized projects of genocidal remembrance.

    Cathy J. Schlund-Vials 
    is Associate Professor in English and Asian American Studies at the University of Connecticut (Storrs). She is currently the Director for the UConn

    Asian American Studies Institute and is the author of two monographs: Modeling Citizenship: Jewish and Asian American Writing (Temple University Press, 2011) and War, Genocide, and Justice: Cambodian American Memory Work (University of Minnesota Press, 2012).


    Wednesday, FEBRUARY 27

    Lan P. Duong and Kieu-Linh Caroline Valverde,
    Transnationalism and Vietnamese Studies

    12:00 – 2:00 PM 
    | 460 Kaprielian Hall | University Park Campus

    Lunch provided, RSVP to vnguyen@usc.edu

    Lan Duong will be speaking about her book, Treacherous Subjects: Gender, Culture and Trans-Vietnamese Feminism (Temple University Press, 2012), which examines the postwar films and literature of the Vietnamese and diasporic communities in the United States and France. The book pivots on collaboration's dual meaning as a collective artistic endeavor or a political act of treason. Reading across three national contexts, the book situates the cultural productions of the Vietnamese and Vietnamese diaspora within a historical context of collaboration. Based on this vexed history, Treacherous Subjects delves into the cultural politics of collaboration to challenge the braided ideology of heterosexist patriarchy and nationalism that underlie denunciations or celebrations of collaborative acts. Decentering nationalist notions of loyalty and collaboration, Treacherous Subjects asserts that in collaboration lay the grounds for a feminist mode of analysis the book names trans-Vietnamese feminism.


    Lan Duong
     is Associate Professor in the Media and Cultural Studies Department at the University of California, Riverside. Dr. Duong’s second book project, Transnational Vietnamese Cinemas: Imagining Nationhood in a Globalized Era, examines Vietnamese cinema from its inception to the present-day. She recently received a Fulbright Research Scholarship to work on her second book.

    Kieu-Linh Caroline Valverde will discuss her new book, Transnationalizing Viet Nam: Community, Culture, and Politics in the Diaspora (Temple University Press 2012). This is an in-depth look at the dynamic and long-standing connections between Viet Nam and its diaspora in the United States. These links are especially astounding considering the many decidedly antidiasporic elements in not only the home and host countries but also the ethnic community itself. This rich transnational history—which has gone largely undetected, or at least unrecognized—is revealed through nearly two decades of careful longitudinal, multisite research, punctuated by the voices of 250 interviewees.

    Kieu-Linh Caroline Valverde
     is Assistant Professor of Asian American studies at the University of California, Davis. Professor Valverde was a Luce Southeast Asian Studies Fellow at the Australian National University (2004), a Rockefeller Fellow for Project Diaspora at the University of Massachusetts, Boston (2001-02), and a Fulbright Fellow in Viet Nam (1999).


    Thursday, JANUARY 31

    Adria L. Imada, 
    Aloha America: Hula Circuits as Alternative Archives

    12:00 – 2:00 PM | 460 Kaprielian Hall | University Park Campus


    While nineteenth- and twentieth-century tourist hula performers are often assumed to have been victims or beneficiaries of colonial capitalist development, this talk explores their unexpected relationship to Hawai‘i’s present-day self-determination movement. Professor Imada traces the origins of Native Hawaiian decolonization activism within tourist hula circuits that sustained cultural reproduction and political contestation during the past century of American colonization. Tourist dance practices, rather than being antithetical to decolonization, constitute an important archive and repertoire for Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) performers. Politically engaged readings of colonial and neocolonial performances suggest how hula survived colonial repression and is being reconstituted as a contemporary form of redress.


    Adria L. Imada
     is Associate Professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, San Diego. Her book, Aloha America: Hula Circuits through the U.S. Empire, about the relationship between U.S. imperial expansion and Hawaiian hula performance, was published by Duke University Press in 2012. Her dissertation on hula performance was awarded the Ralph Henry Gabriel prize for best dissertation from the American Studies Association in 2003.


    Thursday, November 29
      12:15-2:00 pm

    “The Pageant of the Pacific”: Miguel Covarrubias’s Transpacific Vision and The Golden Gate International Exposition of 1939

      Nancy Lutkehaus



     Nancy Lutkehaus is professor of anthropology, gender studies and political science at the University of Southern California. She is author or editor of five books, including Margaret Mead: The Making of an American Icon (Princeton University Press, 2009) and Zaria's 

    Fire: Engendered Moments in Manam
     (Carolina Academic Press, 1995), which received the 1996 Choice award as Outstanding Academic Publication. Professor Lutkehaus researches Melanesian gender and social organization, political and economic anthropology, religion and symbolic anthropology. She is interested in visual studies, especially in Western representations of Pacific Island peoples and in the display of non-Western art in Western fine art museums.  She will give the 2013 Frobenius Insitute lectures on this subject in Frankfurt, Germany.



    Tuesday, October 16, 12pm-2:00pm

    Bottomhood Is Powerful: Asian American Sexual Positionings

    Nguyen Tan Hoang



    Bryn Mawr College

    Advancing the concept of “gay Asian bottomhood,” the talk examines the ways that anal erotics and bottom positioning refract the meanings of race, gender, sexuality, and nationality in American culture. I suggest that bottomhood simultaneously enables and constrains Asian American men in moving-image media. Gay male video pornography and sex cruising websites constitute case studies. The talk will be
    supplemented by a short video screening.

    Sponsored by USC's Asian American Studies, American Studies and Ethnicity, the Center for Feminist Research, the Visual Studies Research Institute, and the Center for Transpacific Studies.

    Nguyen Tan Hoang is Assistant Professor of English & Film Studies at Bryn Mawr College. His videos K.I.P, PIRATED!, and Forever Bottom! have screened at MoMA, The Getty Center, and the Georges Pompidou Center. His writings have appeared in Porn Studies, Vectors: Journal of Culture and Technology in a Dynamic Vernacular, and Resolutions 3:

    Video Praxis in Global Spaces. Hoang’s book A View from the Bottom is forthcoming from Duke University Press.



    Redefining the Pacific

    April 8-9, 2011
    Davidson Conference Center, University of Southern California


    Transpacific Studies Conference: Homelands, Diasporas and the Movement of Populations

    April 2-3, 2010
    University of Southern California


    Conference Participants


Past Events


Redefining the Pacific Conference

April 8-9, 2011

The Political Economy of the Pacific Rim Workshop
April 23, 2010
University of Southern California

Transpacific Studies Conference: Homelands, Diasporas and the Movement of Populations
April 2-3, 2010
University of Southern California

Center for Transpacific Studies Workshop
October 30-31, 2009
University of Southern California

  • Viet Thanh Nguyen
  • 404D Taper Hall
  • Department of English
  • University of Southern California
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-0354