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Transnationalizing Queer Theory across Asia

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Organizer: Grace En-Yi Ting

Co-Organizer: Alvin K. Wong

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This panel calls for new creative thinking, methodologies, literary/visual archives, and intellectual genealogies that transnationalize queer theory. Namely, we draw inspiration from Shu-mei Shih and Francoise Lionnet’s injunction to creolize theory in the capital T, which assumes universalism while erasing its own locality and particularity. In the past 20 years, works by Howard Chiang, David Eng, Gayatri Gopinath, Petrus Liu, Martin Manalansan, and Jasbir Puar have mobilized the analytic rigors of Sinophone studies, queer diaspora, queer Marxism, and homonationalism to unpack the colonial and imperial investment of Eurocentric modernity. We also specifically acknowledge histories and current realities of multiple “non-Western” forms of colonialism and imperialism shaping conditions for queerness in Asia, including in Taiwan.

As we deal with precarity, political upheaval, and ongoing imperialisms in Asia during the pandemic, we find it timely to invite contributions to new modalities of queer studies that map South-South and minor forms of transnationalism, seen in recent theoretical interventions of queer Asia and queer regionalism. Moreover, recent years have seen a highly visible increase in feminist discourses and activities in places including South Korea, mainland China, and Japan. Such feminisms—frequently operating through online spaces and centering the voices of young feminists—are often transnational or transregional, but how do they interact with queer theory? We encourage papers dealing with the transnational seen in the light of interaction between feminisms and queer theory in the past and the present in Asian contexts. Also, we welcome papers that reckon with legacies of American and European colonialism and imperialism across the Pacific while reimagining possibilities of queerness. Here are questions that might serve as theoretical provocations:
  • How might a queer hermeneutic reckon with/exceed violent histories of imperialism by European, American, Chinese, and Japanese empires across Asia? How are acts of translation and the uneven circulation of texts involved? How might this occur through the coloniality of languages including English, Japanese, and Chinese?

  • How do queer cultural productions invite minor-to-minor modes of comparison across Sinophone, Japanophone, intercultural, and translingual divides? How might queer Sinophone cultures decenter both Sino-centrism and the Eurocentric mooring of queer theory? What happens at the intersection of Japanophone and Sinophone queer cultures?

  • How might the analytic category of the Transpacific complicate transnational queer studies in its current disciplinary formation? What new possibilities emerge when we spatialize and temporalize queerness Transpacifically and transnationally?

  • Given its histories of multiple and serial imperialism and settler colonialism, how might queer Taiwan provide a decolonial vision for queer theory?

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