This article historicizes the methods Chinese actors have used to embody the foreign characters in adaptations of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin. It roots the discussion in Ouyang Yuqian's Heinu hen (Regret of a Black Slave 黑奴恨, 1959), arguing that the incidents of racial impersonation in Chinese adaptations of Uncle Tom's Cabin are best understood not in comparison to other, intentionally racist incidents of blackface in world drama, but rather in relation to other histories of performing identity within Chinese theatrical traditions. In examining the manner in which Chinese actors performed as black and white Americans, men and women, as well as enslaved people and enslavers, I frame impersonation as a politically fluid performance tactic—neither inherently progressive nor conservative. Instead, an analysis of the impersonation of race, gender, and class introduces ethical questions about how Chinese performances of ethnic others may reflect an interest in the self as well as the subjects being portrayed.


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pp. 165-188
Launched on MUSE
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