Transpacific Convergences

Race, Migration, and Japanese American Film Culture before World War II

By Denise Khor

208 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 35 halftones, 2 maps, appends., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6797-3
    Published: July 2022
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-6796-6
    Published: July 2022
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-6798-0
    Published: April 2022

Studies in United States Culture

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Despite the rise of the Hollywood system and hostility to Asian migrant communities in the early twentieth-century United States, Japanese Americans created a thriving cinema culture that produced films and established theaters and exhibition companies to facilitate their circulation between Japan and the United States. Drawing from a fascinating multilingual archive including the films themselves, movie industry trade press, Japanese American newspapers, oral histories, and more, this book reveals the experiences of Japanese Americans at the cinema and traces an alternative network of film production, exhibition, and spectatorship. In doing so,Denise Khor recovers previously unknown films such as The Oath of the Sword(1914), likely one of the earliest Asian American film productions, and illuminates the global circulations that have always constituted the multifaceted history of American cinema.

Khor opens up transnational lines of inquiry and draws comparisons between early Japanese American cinema and Black cinema to craft a broad and expansive history of a transnational public sphere shaped by the circulation and exchange of people, culture, and ideas across the Pacific.

About the Author

Denise Khor is assistant professor of American studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.
For more information about Denise Khor, visit the Author Page.


"Illuminating . . . Khor clarifies how the Japanese American film culture has been shaped by the transpacific circulation of people, things, and ideas. She also demonstrates how its narratives and histories have been mediated in or haunted by these geopolitical concepts and theories."—Japanese Studies

"Transpacific Convergences reveals diverse worlds of Japanese American leisure, recreation, and community building almost entirely new to the historiography . . . These worlds unfold against transformations in the Hollywood and Japanese film industries, while Khor also highlights parallels with Black race films to frame out her story."—Western Historical Quarterly

“A marvelous, well-researched exploration of Japanese American film culture. . . . This methodical, exemplary book is a valuable contribution to early-20th-century film culture in the US. Essential.”—CHOICE

“In every respect, this book is an excellent example of the new historical work being done in cinema and media studies, scholarship that orchestrates a necessary, rigorous conversation between media history and ethnic studies.”—Colin Gunckel, University of Michigan

"Denise Khor's illuminating book makes clear that Japanese American film culture has been shaped from the start by movements and dialogues between people, things, and ideas. This is a must-read for those who are interested in the dynamics of transpacific cultural exchange."—Daisuke Miyao, University of California—San Diego