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Beyond Imperial AestheticsTheories of Art and Politics in East Asia$
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Mayumo Inoue and Steve Choe

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9789888455874

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888455874.001.0001

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Cold War Aesthetics in East Asia

Cold War Aesthetics in East Asia

(p.52) 2 Cold War Aesthetics in East Asia
Beyond Imperial Aesthetics

Petrus Liu

Hong Kong University Press

This chapter argues that the conventional understanding that we live in a post-Cold War world order is part of an imperialist aesthetic logic for two important reasons. On the one hand, traditional history creates a teleological narrative that conflates the intellectual history of Marxism—which continues to thrive in China and other locations today—with the political structure of the USSR that collapsed in 1991. According to this narrative, Marxism is merely an "ideology" that is inimical to free thinking and free speech, and, since humanity has entered a distinctly new phase called the "end of history" or the "end of ideologies" in 1991, any current effort to rebuild Marxist or socialist programs must be anachronistic, utopian, or naive. On the other hand, the conventional definition of the Cold War as the period from the Truman Doctrine of 1941 to the dissolution of the USSR in 1991 naturalizes a Western-centered explanatory framework that completely overlooks the experience and agency of East Asia. The presumption that Cold War studies must begin (and end) with the United States and its Western rival(s) is therefore part of the imperialist aesthetics that organizes our temporal-spatial life worlds into the rise and fall of Western empires.

Keywords:   Cold War, Chen Yingzhen, Empiricism, Aesthetics, Cinema

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