Questioning Diaspora: Mobility, Mutation and Historiography in the Shaw Brothers Film Studio

Darrell William DAVIS

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This piece reviews the historical accounts of Shaw Brothers Studio, targeting its presentation as a diaspora company whose commercialism was enhanced by political pragmatism, frugality, and agility. The studio's activities were constrained by twentieth-century geopolitics, but its behavior was also shaped by its show business competitors, new technologies, and emergent popular forms. Existing historical accounts tend to overstate the studio's diasporic qualities, especially compared to other firms. This essay argues that there are limits to the diaspora model and proposes a more complex understanding of the firm. Alternative factors are considered in the company's colonial stratagems, in both its earlier and later phases, and in its dealings with Hong Kong's left-wing studios and subsequent businessin Taiwan. Finally, Shaw Brothers Studio's appropriation of Japanese and other Asian talent is significant to the diaspora model of Shaw Brothers Studio.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-59
Number of pages20
JournalChinese Journal of Communication
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011


  • Shaw Brothers Studio
  • Hong Kong film industry
  • MP & GI Cathay
  • Chinese diaspora
  • cultural economy
  • mobility and diversification


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