Gender and Sexuality at the Crossroads: Queer Activism and Gender Politics in the Sinophone World

Conference: AAS-in-Asia2020 (AAS-in-Asia2020)
Title: Gender and Sexuality at the Crossroads: Queer Activism and Gender Politics in the Sinophone World
Stream: Gender & Sexuality
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Dian Dian, Emory University, United States (organizer, presenter, chair)
Yayu Zheng, University of Southern California, United States (presenter)
Larry Tung, York College of CUNY, United States (presenter, discussant)
Jackie Wang, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong (presenter)


Queer studies focused not only on the lives and communities of sexual minorities but also on the social production and regulation of gender and sexuality. Gender and sexuality, similar to “China” or “Asia,” are at the crossroads of multiple power dynamics. Scholars noticed that neither "Chineseness" nor "queerness" can be simply understood within national boundaries. Therefore, a better framework of study Chinese queer in a transnational sense has been proposed: a "queer Sinophone" approach. (Chiang & Heinrich, 2014)
“Sinophone” is a new analytic category that provides an alternative to the dominating discourses of "Chinese" or "Chinese diaspora" that often mediated through a center – China. (Shih, 2007) This attempt of moving beyond an essentialist view of Chineseness, which implies a binary model of China and West, resembles what queer theory seeks to do within queer studies: challenging the dichotomy of sex and gender, and the essentialist understanding of gender/sexual identities.
With this “queer Sinophone” approach, this panel deals with the social production(s) of gender and sexuality in the Sinophone world. We start with a case study of a cross-regional activist network, Chinese Lala Alliance, that reveals the multiplicity of identities of nationality, gender and sexuality. Next, we offer a comparative study of the deployment of queer aesthetics and imagery in TV shows produced in both Taiwan and mainland China. We then further develop the discussion of queer Sinophone film and television into its activist mode. Finally, we trace back to history, comment on the intersections of gender and politics in discussions of women’s labour and national identity during the transition from Republican China to PRC.