[csaa-forum] (Un)Making Queer Worlds: Transformations in Asia Pacific Queer Cultures

Aren Z. Aizura alchemic at optusnet.com.au
Wed Jun 20 13:48:12 CST 2007

Hi all,

Just a reminder about (Un)Making Queer Worlds: Transformations in 
Asia-Pacific Queer Cultures
Roundtable Workshop for Postgraduate and Early Career Researchers

June 22-23, 2007 (that's this Friday and Saturday)
Gryphon Gallery
Graduate Centre
University of Melbourne
Parkville, Victoria

Registration: FREE
See http://www.english.unimelb.edu.au/postgraduate/unmaking_worlds.html

Keynote Presentation: Assoc. Prof. Peter A. Jackon (ANU)
5.30pm Friday 22 June,
Gryphon Gallery @ Graduate Centre
University of Melbourne, Parkville (off Grattan St)

"Capitalism, Queer Autonomy, and the Historical Production of Sex 
Cultural Difference"

  Simplistic, but nonetheless influential, "McWorld" accounts of 
cultural globalisation draw on political-economy models of imperialism 
that portray capitalism as a force that homogenises world cultures along 
Western lines.  This line of thought has influenced many accounts of the 
global proliferation sex cultural difference, which is often portrayed 
as the "spread", "borrowing", or "imposition" of originally Western, 
usually American, models upon the rest of the world.  In these accounts 
the West/America is positioned as active/dominating, while the rest of 
the world is positioned as passive/subordinated.  Somewhat oddly, 
despite their political differences both conservative pro-globalisation 
analysts as well as anti-capitalist critics of imperialism often share 
this basic model, differing only in whether they value the assumed 
Western/American dominance of world cultures as a good or a bad thing. 
However, the results of Asian queer studies research seem to question 
both the traditional conservative and critical positions on the role of 
capitalism in contemporary cultural production, and to reveal both as 
being deeply infected with West-centric assumptions.

Drawing on two examples from 20th century Thai queer history (the 
history of male sex work in Bangkok and the history of Thailand's first 
successful gay magazine), I will argue that non-Western capitalisms not 
only provide avenues for homogenising cultural Westernisation but 
equally have the capacity to produce new forms of local cultural 
difference -- including new forms of gendered and sexualised identity 
and culture.  The admittedly fragmentary archive on the place of 
capitalism in Thai queer history also reveals the strength of local 
agency in drawing on the novel opportunities provided the market economy 
for enhancing Thai queer autonomy.  I conclude that both conservative 
and critical "McWorld" models of the place of capitalism in contemporary 
Asian cultures need to be problematised.  Greater emphasis needs to be 
given to the market's capacity to produce local difference (as opposed 
to imposing foreign patterns) and to provide a space for enhancing local 
autonomy (rather than being a mechanism of subordination).


Aren Z. Aizura
Doctoral Candidate
Cultural Studies Program, School of Culture and Communications
University of Melbourne
Parkville Victoria Australia
email: alchemic at optusnet.com.au
phone: 0403 215 271 / 61 3 9384 3216

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