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What Will I BeAmerican Music and Cold War Identity$
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Philip M. Gentry

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190299590

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190299590.001.0001

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This Promise of Paradise

This Promise of Paradise

Identity and Performance in the Pacific Theater

(p.92) 4 This Promise of Paradise
What Will I Be

Philip M. Gentry

Oxford University Press

This fourth chapter considers the intersection of white engagement with representations of Asian culture such as the musical South Pacific, as well as something of its opposite: a nightclub in San Francisco known as Forbidden City. At this club, Asian American musicians and dancers put on a kind of whiteface show in which, for example, singer Larry Ching performed as the “Chinese Frank Sinatra.” These dueling representations illuminate two larger and intersecting trends. One is the experience of white American service members returning home from the Pacific front. The other was the experience of Asian American in California, especially in the Bay Area where many Chinese Americans were joining the suburban middle class. Globalization was nothing new in the 1940s, but in the context of the Cold War, the development of these new styles of representation took on particularly fraught meanings.

Keywords:   Forbidden City, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Asian American, globalization, orientalism, Pacific theater, interculturalism

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