Dean Celine Parreñas Shimizu launches her new book: "The Movies of Racial Childhoods"

UC Santa Cruz’s Dean of the Arts Division, award-winning filmmaker and author celebrates the publication of her most recent work

Celine Parreñas Shimizu (photo by Carolyn Lagattuta) and her new book (cover art by Nicholas Uglow, courtesy of the artist)

Thursday March 21, 2024
5:00 PM  – 7:00 PM
Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery
FREE and Open to the Public/no tickets required

The Movies of Racial Childhoods: Screening Self-Sovereignty in Asian/America is Dean Celine Parreñas Shimizu’s fourth soul-authored book published earlier this year by Duke University Press. To celebrate, the University of California, Santa Cruz's Mary Porter Sesnon Gallery will be hosting a book launch featuring Shimizu where the book will be available for purchase from Two Birds Books. The book will be discussed in conversation with Shimizu and the Sesnon Gallery director Valeria Miranda.

The Movies of Racial Childhoods: Screening Self-Sovereignty in Asian/America explores the representation of Asian and Asian American children in contemporary industry and independent cinema. Shimizu discusses movies from the last decades including but not limited to Spa Night (2016), Yellow Rose (2019), The Half of It (2020), and Minari (2020).

“The relative absence of Asian Americans on the silver screen makes their representation something we cannot not want,” says David L. Eng, coauthor of Racial Melancholia, Racial Dissociation: On the Social and Psychic Lives of Asian Americans. “In this profound and personal meditation, Celine Parreñas Shimizu cautions us not to assume that representation and belonging go hand in hand.”

She uses psychoanalytic approaches to cinema in exploring the alienation and joy felt by Asian American youth especially in terms of race and gender. These conflicts overlap with the youth’s simultaneous infantilization, sexualization, and adultification. Shimizu explores  representations of childhood, race, gender, and sexuality as a mode of empowerment towards self-reflection and attunement in cinema and child-rearing both.

Shimizu has received praise for her work from several authors in her field. “The Movies of Racial Childhoods is like nothing I have ever read,” says Nicole R. Fleetwood, author of Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration. “Interweaving psychoanalysis, Asian American studies, trauma theory, cinema studies, and personal narrative, Shimizu cultivates space for us to collectively grieve and to reawaken the possibilities of childhood dreaming.”

About Celine Parreñas Shimizu

Born in the last days of the 1960s to Filipino political refugees, Celine Parreñas Shimizu moved to Boston in her early teens. She later moved to California to get her Bachelor's in Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley, her Master of Fine Arts from UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, and her Ph.D. from Stanford University in Modern Thought and Literature. After getting married and having children, her youngest son Lakas suddenly died in 2013 due to  a virus that attacked his heart. Shimizu’s experience as a grieving mother plays into the analysis of The Movies of Racial Childhoods. Her family endowed a scholarship for UC Santa Cruz students in honor of her son.

Other written works of Shimizu’s include her award-winning The Hypersexuality of Race (2007), Straitjacket Sexualities (2012), The Proximity of Other Skins (2020),  as well as her co-editing of The Feminist Porn Book (2013) and The Unwatchability of Whiteness (2018). Her movies have won numerous awards, and her last film, 80 Years Later: On Japanese American Racial Inheritance (2022), was shown at 50 national and international festivals and won 19 awards. She is working on her new fiction film So To Speak, filming in March 2024. 

A film scholar and filmmaker, Shimizu is the Dean of the Arts Division at UC Santa Cruz since July of 2021. She previously led the School of Cinema at San Francisco State University and worked as a full professor of Asian American, Feminist, and Film and Media Studies at UC Santa Barbara  where she chaired the Senior Women’s Council.

Celine Parreñas Shimizu is available for interviews. To request an interview, please contact Gaby Messino at 831-459-3277 or

Additional Information

Purchase The Movies of Racial Childhood from Two Birds Books.

Thursday March 21, 2024

5:00 PM  – 7:00 PM

Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery

On Campus at UC Santa Cruz

1156 High St. 

Santa Cruz, CA 95064

FREE and Open to the Public/no tickets required

Celine Parreñas Shimizu



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