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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Mifune and Me: Asian/American Corporeal Citations and the Politics of Mobility

  • Author(s): Metzger, Sean
  • et al.

This essay examines the relationships of performing bodies to elaborate “Asian/American corporeal citations” and argues that such citations create the grounds for a politics of mobility. Revisiting and extending Sau-ling Wong’s theoretical engagement with “myths of mobility,” it specifically uses the nexus of mourning, performance, and racialization to rearticulate modes of cultural passing by constructing a lineage through several men: screen star Toshiro Mifune, actor Lane Nishikawa (who invokes Mifune through Nishikawa’s elegiac solo piece Mifune and Me), and the author (disciplined through acting classes with Nishikawa). The stakes of re-membering are further articulated through the interweaving of the bodily acts associated with the death of the author’s grandfather, Bo Jung. Joining the principal argument with this more personal reflection is an attempt to think through the implications of Nishikawa’s theatrical memorial and to grapple with loss and the complex, nonlinear structures of memory that attend it. Ultimately, all the cultural transmissions discussed place the body at the center of transnational, racial, and ethnic discourses. In so doing, the essay revises kinship as the foundation for what might otherwise be too easily read as diasporic cultural productions.

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