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Reading Rey Chow

Visuality, Postcoloniality, Ethnicity, Sexuality

Paul Bowman

This is the first book-length study of the groundbreaking work of Rey Chow, whose work has transformed the fields of postcolonialism, cultural studies, film, ethnicity and gender. It describes and explains the features and the breadth of Chow's interventions and illustrates Chow’s arguments by way of the analysis of a range of engaging examples drawn from the fields of film, popular music, identity and popular culture. Chow’s work is of interest and importance to anyone working on questions of international and transnational film; popular culture; postcolonialism; poststructuralism; and Chinese, Hong Kong and Asian identity in different national contexts; as well as sex, gender and ethnic politics in general. This book elaborates on and illustrates Chow’s fascinating contributions to scholarship and knowledge across many different fields by arguing that her work can best be understood in relation to the «projects» of cultural studies and postcolonial studies. In this way, the work sets out both the enduring importance of these wider projects and the importance of Rey Chow’s contributions to them.
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Chapter Two. Gender, Race, Ethnicity and Visual Culture


The connections between mass-mediated forms of popular culture, such as film or pop music, and matters that could be called political are often difficult to discern. This is so even though they can be said to be overwhelmingly visual matters. More specifically, they are matters of representation, and more precisely still, matters of representation that are ineradicably wedded to particular types of media technology. To elucidate these propositions, this chapter first shows some of the ways in which cinema and film in general can be shown to be significant cultural technologies, and some of the ways in which they have complex effects on culture and identity. It then goes on to analyse two music videos in terms of what they could be said to show us about gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity in the contemporary media-saturated world. It is strongly informed by Rey Chow’s work, and is designed to elucidate Rey Chow’s arguments in this regard.

To begin, let us note: more and more of the world could be said to be media-saturated. However, we might also note: “media saturation” is not a particularly new thing. There have long been media. It is rather that the types of media that are dominant in different times and places change. The 19th century was arguably the century of the dominance of literature and of the British Empire. Literature was the dominant cultural form; Britain the dominant national force. To the extent that this is the case, it can also be...

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