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"The Perfect Type of Industry": Apocalyptic Visions of the Asian Century


This thesis traces apocalyptic narratives of East Asian labor and mastery through the reportage of the Russo-Japanese war to the modern disaster film, using Yellow Peril as a framework to explore how American economic anxieties have remained mapped to the Chinese laborer even through recent upheavals in U.S.-China relations and the transition of the global economy into late-stage capitalism. By investigating selected literary and cinematic works like Jack London’s “The Unparalleled Invasion” and Roland Emmerich’s 2012 (2009) as speculative projections of an apocalyptic understanding of history, I seek to illuminate how the different formations of Yellow Peril function as state-sanctioned eschatologies that plan to extend the ideological life of the state beyond its material life, naturalizing capitalist and colonial relations that preserve the strictures of race, gender, and sexuality in order to reproduce the nation, avoiding the apocalyptic re-orientation of the end of empire.

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