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Border crossings and multicultural whiteness: Nationalism in the global production and United States reception of vampire films

Dale M Hudson, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Border Crossings and Multicultural Whiteness analyzes the interplay of cinema and nation in audience responses to vampire films. Since audiences accept nationality, race, and ethnicity as “natural” terms for social differentiation, I examine them in tandem with an exaggerated term for social differentiation that calls attention to its ideological constructivity: vampire. Vampire-film narratives involve border crossings, posing; questions about immigration, cultural assimilation, and foreign intervention that produce notions of nation, race, and ethnicity. I question why audiences devalue vampire films, particularly ones challenging the “transparency” of eurocentrism, multiculturalism, and whiteness, to suggest that inequalities within film narratives reflect industrial inequalities with global film circulation. Vampire-hunters assassinate in foreign rulers, yet vampires are forbidden to immigrate; Hollywood dominates foreign markets, yet foreign films are often denied entry into US markets. I propose the concept of multicultural whiteness, linking problematic discourses of inclusion and exclusion, to suggest an internalization of Hollywood narrative conventions, cinematic styles, and production values as an expression of US nationalism. Audiences evaluate vampire films according to criteria of performing whiteness while constructing “America” as an a historical “nation of immigrants.” Chapters 1 and 2 investigate ethnocentrism and nationalism imbedded in vampirism against alternative primordialist and constructivist theories of nation, relating them to the evaluative criteria within vampire-film canons. Chapter 3 analyzes ambiguous representations of nationality for international audiences in Hammer Films (UK) productions since the late 1950s. Chapter 4 suggests that dubbing, reediting, and peripheral exhibition venues reduce parodies of eurocentrism in Mexican, Filipino, Japanese, and South Asian films to depoliticized touristic spectacle during 1960s–1970s. Chapter 5 examines “vampires of color” in post-1975 Hollywood as sites for debates and negotiation over miscegenation and assimilation. Chapter 6 explores multiculturalism's deflation of tensions between Chinese transnationalism (one China) and Hong Kong's hybrid identity (Chinese-British) in 1980s Hong Kong films. Chapters 7 and 8 question the purported de-centering of multinational financing in art and blockbuster films and interrogate the unequal benefits of globalization I conclude by discussing fan fiction, video distribution and reception via the Internet, contending that copyright law is selectively enforced according to national hierarchies within the global marketplace.

Subject Area

Motion Pictures|Comparative literature|American studies

Recommended Citation

Hudson, Dale M, "Border crossings and multicultural whiteness: Nationalism in the global production and United States reception of vampire films" (2004). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3136738.