This article explores the contradictions that surrounded evocations of the clean, hygienic, healthy body in 1920s and 1930s Manila film culture, where moviegoing ephemera such as advertisements, exhibition artifacts, and popular media interfaced with other systems of knowledge implicated within the colonial project, such as bodily piety and public health. This juncture between consumer culture, cinema, and discourses of cleanliness places the cinema within an uncanny archive of aspirational embodiment that evokes older orders of power: accounts of cinemagoing measured theaters' worth in terms of sanitation and cleanliness; and in both English and Tagalog popular film magazines, advertisements for doctors, medicines, cleaning agents, and beauty products sat beside images of local and foreign stars. Circulating within a context of impending independence and cultural transition, this archive not only bolstered US colonial regimes of hygiene, sanitation, cleanliness, gender, and race, but also evoked residual formations of religious piety and Catholicism.
Epistemologies of the Body in Colonial Manila's Film Culture
Jasmine Nadua Trice is an associate professor of cinema and media studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her book City of Screens: Imagining Audiences in Manila's Alternative Film Culture is forthcoming from Duke University Press in spring 2021. She is currently coauthoring a book on film organizing in Southeast Asia; interviews related to this project can be found at www.aseac-interviews.org. Her writing has been published in Asian Cinema, International Journal of Cultural Studies, Quarterly Review of Film and Video, Feminist Media Studies, and Projector: Journal of Media and Culture.
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Jasmine Nadua Trice; Epistemologies of the Body in Colonial Manila's Film Culture. Feminist Media Histories 1 July 2020; 6 (3): 104–136. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2020.6.3.104
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