This essay adopts and adapts memory work, as developed by Annette Kuhn, as a method to search for the author's grandmother in Chinese American feminist film history. Foregrounding a trans-feminist perspective that moves across and between nations and film cultures, it introduces readers to a relatively unknown “orphan” documentary film, Forever Chinatown (1960). For the author and her family, the film carries with it a history of trauma that shapes what is remembered about it. Drawing on work in feminist film studies, particularly the notion of an archive of feelings, the essay blends life writing, theory, and visual-textual analysis to both allow the author to write her way into the film and trace her grandmother's presence in and labor on the film.
Forever Her Chinatown: Where Is My Grandmother in Chinese American Feminist Film History?
Danielle Seid is an assistant professor of English at Baruch College, City University of New York. Her varied interests in media include film and TV history, racial performance, documentary film, and celebrity culture. Currently she is working on a book that examines the forgotten histories of Asian American women on US network television as artifacts of US empire in Asia and the Pacific. Her scholarly work has appeared or is forthcoming in Amerasia, Feminist Media Studies, TSQ, and The Journal of Popular Culture, as well as collections on race, film, and US gambling culture.
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Danielle Seid; Forever Her Chinatown: Where Is My Grandmother in Chinese American Feminist Film History?. Feminist Media Histories 1 January 2019; 5 (1): 141–167. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2019.5.1.141
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