Colonial Tactics and Everyday Life: Workers of the Manchuria Film Association (Wisconsin Film Studies) (Hardcover)

Colonial Tactics and Everyday Life: Workers of the Manchuria Film Association (Wisconsin Film Studies) By Yuxin Ma Cover Image
This item is backordered and not currently available. Please contact us for an estimated availability date.


Following the Japanese invasion of northeast China in 1931, the occupying authorities established the Manchuria Film Association to promote film production efficiency and serve Japan’s propaganda needs. Manchuria Film Association had two tasks: to make “national policy films” as part of a cultural mission of educating Chinese in Manchukuo (the puppet state created in 1932) on the special relationship between Japan and the region, and to block the exhibition of Chinese films from Shanghai that contained anti-Japanese messages. The corporation relied on Japanese capital, technology, and film expertise, but it also employed many Chinese filmmakers. After the withdrawal of Japanese forces in 1945, many of these individuals were portrayed as either exploited victims or traitorous collaborators. Yuxin Ma seeks to move the conversation beyond such simplistic and inaccurate depictions.

By focusing on the daily challenges and experiences of the Chinese workers at the corporation, Ma examines how life was actually lived by people navigating between practical and ideological concerns. She illustrates how the inhabitants of Manchukuo navigated social opportunities, economic depression, educational reforms, fascist rule, commercial interests, practical daily needs, and more—and reveals ways in which these conflicting preoccupations sometimes manifested as tension and ambiguity on screen. In the battle between repression and expression, these Chinese actors, directors, writers, and technicians adopted defensive and opportunistic tactics. They did so in colonial spaces, often rejecting modernist representations of Manchukuo in favor of venerating traditional Chinese culture and values. The expertise, skills, and professional networks they developed extended well beyond the occupation into the postwar period, and may individuals reestablished themselves as cinema professionals in the socialist era.

About the Author

Yuxin Ma is an associate professor of history at the University of Louisville and the author of Women Journalists and Feminism in China, 1898–1937.

Praise For…

“The first systematic study of the lived experiences of Chinese film workers at the Manchuria Film Association. It foregrounds human agency in surviving the political turmoil under Japanese occupation. Lucidly written, it is theoretically sophisticated and entertaining: a must-read for film scholars and general readers.”—Daisy Yan Du, author of Animated Encounters: Transnational Movements of Chinese Animation, 1940s–1970s

“Ma’s well-researched study of the everyday experiences of Chinese filmmakers in Japan-controlled Manchuria brings out the complexity of Manchurian cultural life and film culture. This valuable book is a welcome addition to the expanding literature on the cultural history of Manchuria and Japanese-occupied cinema.”—Po-Shek Fu, author of Between Shanghai and Hong Kong: The Politics of Chinese Cinemas

“A unique and seminal study of meticulous scholarship. . . . Expertly organized and presented.”—Midwest Book Review

Product Details
ISBN: 9780299340209
ISBN-10: 0299340201
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
Publication Date: January 17th, 2023
Pages: 360
Language: English
Series: Wisconsin Film Studies