This essay examines the growth of transnational culture in East Asia, drawing heavily on the example of Chinese cinema. It notes the growth of a variety of transborder-based Chinese cinema cultures, ranging from blockbuster productions to independent documentary culture, and argues that similar phenomena can be found in other parts of East Asia and with other arts and media. Until now, the tendency has been to tag such phenomena as “transnational” without further elaboration. This essay argues that the time has come for a more rigorous interrogation of the transnational. It argues that the transnational order should be distinguished from both the earlier international order of nation-states and from the ideology of globalisation. Further, it argues that the cultural formations that grow under the logic of transnational and flexible production operate not as part of a stable national system but according to the contingent and fluid logic of assemblage.
How do you get people interested in something they know nothing about? Something old, forgotten—and in black and white with subtitles? ‘Taiwan’s Lost Commercial Cinema: Recovered and Restored’ is a project to screen old Taiwanese-language films (taiyupian), mostly from the 1960s, in Europe. It was a learning experience in working with Taiwanese culture in Europe. This report is my effort to reflect on that experience and I try to answer two questions. First, what is so interesting about these films? Second, why was it so difficult to make the initial breakthrough and what made it possible in the end? There are many different elements at play. But I have come to understand that the environment for screening alternative, archive, and art films has changed over the decades to create both new problems and new possibilities, among which the potential for universities to be cultural incubators has been crucial.