Fellow 1998-99

Poshek Fu


Assistant professor of history, east asian languages and cultures

Professor Fu teaches modern Chinese history and cinema studies at UIUC. He was born in Hong Kong and educated in Canada, China, and the United States. His research focuses on cultural history, urban culture, Chinese and Hong Kong cinema, and World War II in East Asia. Currently, he is preparing an edited anthology, The Cinema of Hong Kong: History, Arts, Identity, 1900–1997, for publication. During his Center appointment, he will be working on a book manuscript, Mulan, Begonia, Opium War: The Cultural Politics of Chinese Cinema in Japanese-Occupied Shanghai. Focusing on Shanghai cinema, known in the 1930s and 1940s as the “Hollywood of the East,” his project studies the ambiguity of everyday survival and resistance and the politics of cultural production in China under Japanese occupation (1937-45). He challenges conventional scholarship that stresses the victimization of the Chinese during the war by highlighting the fluid boundary between cooperation and resistance. As in the Japanese-controlled cinema in Shanghai, many Chinese filmmakers were compelled to work for it; yet they refused despite tremendous pressures to legitimize the enemy, instead making only ideologically irrelevant and often ambiguous films and contributing to the undying vitality of the city’s modern culture. To explore these areas, the project will combine close readings of several major films with a documentary reconstruction of the historical conditions of film production and reception (including the film industry and its relation to print culture). Fu is also the author of Passivity, Resistance and Collaboration: Intellectual Choices in Occupied Shanghai, 1937-1945.