Made-Up Asians: Yellowface During the Exclusion Era (Paperback)

Made-Up Asians: Yellowface During the Exclusion Era By Esther Kim Lee Cover Image

Made-Up Asians: Yellowface During the Exclusion Era (Paperback)

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Made-Up Asians traces the history of yellowface, the theatrical convention of non-Asian actors putting on makeup and costume to look East Asian. Using specific case studies from European and U.S. theater, race science, and early film, Esther Kim Lee traces the development of yellowface in the U.S. context during the Exclusion Era (1862–1940), when Asians faced legal and cultural exclusion from immigration and citizenship. These caricatured, distorted, and misrepresented versions of Asians took the place of excluded Asians on theatrical stages and cinema screens. The book examines a wide-ranging set of primary sources, including makeup guidebooks, play catalogs, advertisements, biographies, and backstage anecdotes, providing new ways of understanding and categorizing yellowface as theatrical practice and historical subject. Made-Up Asians also shows how lingering effects of Asian exclusionary laws can still be seen in yellowface performances, casting practices, and anti-Asian violence into the 21st century. 

Esther Kim Lee is Professor of Theater Studies at Duke University.

Product Details ISBN: 9780472055432
ISBN-10: 0472055437
Publisher: University of Michigan Press
Publication Date: July 11th, 2022
Pages: 282
Language: English

“Written for a wide audience from theater aficionados to Asian American performance makers to academics, this timely book illuminates a fascinating archive of make-up conventions derived from instructional manuals and specific case studies from both the stage and the cinema.”
—Sean Metzger, University of California, Los Angeles


— Sean Metzger