Organized Panel Session
In her pioneering study of amateur cinema, Patricia Zimmermann presents the antinomy of modern amateurism as "the professional [conducting] activities for work, [while] the amateur labors away from work in free or leisure time." Modern amateurism thus marks the dynamic juncture of the social and cultural boundaries defining the modern capitalist world, separating leisure from labor and the private from the public. Yet Zimmerman’s work is limited to the capitalist Western context of the United States. This panel proposes reexamining the discourses and practices of the amateur across historical formations in twentieth-century East Asia. Exploring how amateurism was mobilized in Japan, Japan's interwar colonial territories, and Republican and socialist China, panelists examine the complex interactions of the amateur across national, epochal, and media boundaries. Shota Ogawa explores the politics of territoriality underpinning amateur colonial travelogue films shot by Japanese cine-amateurs in the 1930s, while Stephanie Tung argues for the historical and political contingency of amateurism in the emergence of fine art photography in Republican China. Alexander Zahlten maps the shift from “amateur” film production and distribution in 1930s Japan to “autonomous” film in the 1970s, while A.C. Baecker demonstrates how amateur art practice in socialist China facilitated a transformation in the identity of the artist and the function of fine art in a revolutionary society. With papers discussing art, photography, and cinema, and with case studies located in China, Japan, and interstitial colonial spaces, the panel seeks to reconceptualize the amateur cultural formation as an inter-area and inter-media concern.