Traversing Between Containment and Transboundariness: Cultural Strategies of Transnationalism in Cold War Asia

Title: 1188 | Traversing Between Containment and Transboundariness: Cultural Strategies of Transnationalism in Cold War Asia
Area: Border Crossing and Inter-Area
Stream: History
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Han Sang Kim, Ajou University, South Korea (organizer, presenter)
Shichi Lan, National Chengchi University, Taiwan (presenter)
Yuka Tsuchiya, Kyoto University, Japan (presenter)
Laura Harrington, Boston University, United States (presenter)
Shunya Yoshimi, University of Tokyo, Japan (chair, discussant)


Although Cold War battle lines in Europe were basically fixed by the mid-1950s, Cold War Asia remained the site of a proliferation of bloc-building strategies that focused, not only on forging bipartite alliances with superpowers, but on imagining diverse transnational communities within each bloc. This panel explores selected interventions designed to foster such new collective identities. They comprise a range of players and configurations—from state and private actors on the “free world” side, to efforts to create communities that bridged the communist/anti-communist divide. Han Sang Kim investigates how media narratives of air mobility served to construct a collective South Korean subjectivity that could contain the unseen communist states of North Korea, the Soviet Union, and China, even as they also made possible imagined mobility within "free Asia". Shichi Lan looks into National Chengchi University’s U.S.-supported training of overseas Chinese students (qiaosheng) in the 1950s and 60s and traces those qiaosheng graduates’ career trajectories that formed a transnational network of Chinese journalists and media. Yuka Tsuchiya explores how space development became an important theme of the U.S. public diplomacy after the Sputnik Shock in 1957 and how it was received in Asian countries, using the records of USIA and the State Department, as well as Japanese-language sources. Laura Harrington unearths an Asia Foundation-funded film project about the life of the Buddha and shows how, although never completed, it functioned as a locus through which Asians and Americans used Buddhism to pursue multiple and competing bloc-building efforts. Shunya Yoshimi will serve as chair and commentator.

Panel Abstracts:
The Memories of the World Beyond the Air Border: Pilots Who Crossed From the North Korean Air Into the South Korean Media
This paper traces the media’s use of aviation-related incidents between North and South Koreas during the Cold War, including several defections of North Korean pilots to the South, to examine how such images of aviation mobility functioned to construct a transborder subjectivity before the popularization of air travel.Air transportation, along with maritime transport, has been the pivotal means of transborder mobility in and out of South Korea, so that the imagery of air travel in the mass media produced a certain affect of encountering the unknown world during the Cold War. Since Yi Kŏn-sun’s defection to the South right before the Korean War, North Korean pilots’ defection continuously made headlines in South Korean media until the mid-1990s. Some of those defectors, including No Kŭm-sŏk and Yi Ung-p’yŏng, rose to fame and their memoirs were serialized in newspapers. Similarly, but with different nuances, South Korean and American pilots returned from detainment after their aircrafts had been hijacked or shot down by the North also narrativized their experience— in the air and in the North —through popular media platforms such as newspapers, magazines, and broadcasting. This paper will investigate the testimonies of these pilots as conveyed through the mass media, focusing especially on their imagery of aviation mobility. Both the global state actors and local actors of the Cold War shared a great interest in these incidents, so that there emerged certain media and political industries surrounding the horror and wonder of air travel in the context of the Cold War.

U.S. Aid, Chinese Overseas Students in Taiwan, and a Transnational Network of Chinese Media: A Cold War Legacy
Between 1954 and 1965, as part of a global anti-communist campaign, the U.S. government provided a significant amount of monetary aid to its ally the Republic of China (ROC) government in Taiwan and enabled the latter to recruit overseas Chinese students (qiaosheng)— mostly from Southeast Asia —to study in Taiwan. This paper focuses on National Chengchi University (NCCU), a leading university in Taiwan, and examines what these U.S.-supported qiaosheng studied in Taiwan. It finds that, notably, a significant number of these students took up Journalism, which was based largely on the American model of journalism education, as their major at NCCU. Furthermore, this paper traces and analyzes the career trajectories of these NCCU qiaosheng graduates. It finds that a good number of them returned to Southeast Asia and worked for local Chinese newspapers, most notably in Hong Kong and Malaysia, during the 1960s and early 1970s. And, starting from the late 1970s, some of them went to the U.S. and Canada and became leading figures in overseas Chinese newspapers in North America.Analysis of this paper shows that the U.S. aid, together with the ROC anti-communist education and an American model of journalism education, helped to train a significant number of overseas Chinese in journalism and thereby created a transnational network of Chinese journalists and media which continues till today.

Space as an Arena for Public Diplomacy: USIS Films on Space Development in the Early Cold War Era
When the Soviet Union succeeded in launching the world’s first satellite Sputnik I in October 1957, it successfully impressed the world population with the excellence of Soviet science and technology. The “Sputnik Shock” spurred the U.S. government to develop some new public diplomacy themes, one of which was space. The NASA, established the following year, devoted 80% of its resources on military research, but it was no exaggeration to say that the remaining 20% was spent on public diplomacy. The US Information Agency (USIA) cooperated with NASA's Office of Public Information to produce films and exhibitions. For example, on June 17, 1960, a NASA Space Exhibition was held in Tokyo, with great popularity and media attention. The USIA also showed films such as Exploring by Satellite, John Glenn Orbits the Earth, and Surveys of Astronautics, all over the world. However, unlike the famous “kitchen debate” between Vice President Nixon and Soviet Premier Khrushchev, public diplomacy on space was detached from people’s everyday life. They could import an American kitchen, but not a spacecraft. So what did foreign people find in American space programs? By using the records of USIA and the State Department as well as Japanese-language sources, I will explore how and why space emerged an arena for public diplomacy during the early Cold War era. I will especially focus on foreign reception of the USIS films, and discuss how local factors in foreign countries defined U.S. public diplomacy.

Buddha fights the Cold War: The Greatest Movie Never Made
In the winter of 1953, a CIA-front organization called the Committee for Free Asia (soon to become the Asia Foundation) hired Hollywood screenwriter Robert Hardy Andrews to write a screenplay on the life of the Buddha that would illustrate to Asian audiences that Communism stood in stark opposition to Buddhism’s presumed commitment to peace, truth and the welfare of the downtrodden. The project would also further American bloc-building efforts within “free Asia” by enabling CFA to forge links with a wide range of state and local entities. The screenplay was written under the guidance of a prominent Ceylonese Buddhist scholar who headed a Pan Asian Buddhist revivalist organization; submitted for final approval by a Buddhist council in Burma’s government; and would be filmed in India by a Hollywood company that would hire local actors and resources. This paper analyzes the Wayfarer project as a site at which multiple actors from Asia and America collaborated to pursue disparate and sometimes competing bloc-building efforts. The Wayfarer became more than an American psychological warfare effort; it was understood by its various collaborators to promote anti-Communism in Ceylon, nationalism in Burma, and even a Buddhist “third way” between the Soviet and American blocs. Its exploration illuminates both the complexity and unexpected consequences of transnational relationships in Cold War Asia

This panel is on Friday - Session 02 - Room 1

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