Studying Sex and Sexualities: Exploring Trans-Asian Approaches “Let a hundred flowers bloom: Exploring gender and sexual diversity in China and India”

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Date/Time
Date(s) - 25/08/2016
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Location
B4.37, Building B, Monash University Caulfiled

Category(ies)


Monash Asia Institute Roundtable Series

Studying Sex and Sexualities: Exploring Trans-Asian Approaches

 

Let a hundred flowers bloom: Exploring gender and sexual diversity in China and India”

 

Time & Date: August 25, 2016, 12-2:00 pm (Thurs)

Venue: Monash University, Caulfield campus, Building B, 4th floor (B4.37)

Light lunch will be provided.

 

This seminar series brings together various scholars from different disciplines to generate discussions on studying issues of sex and sexualities from a trans-Asian perspective. Globalisation has enabled the increasing visibility of trans-border gender and LGBT issues in Asia such as human trafficking, vulnerability to armed conflicts and disasters, violence against women and LGBT, gender/sexuality workplace inequalities and same-sex marriage. Building on the success of the inaugural seminar (insert website hyperlink), this second instalment focuses on critical research around LGBT research in Asia using case studies in China and India. It showcases three research studies that offer novel insights to sex and sexualities in Asia through the lens of language, spatiality and political economy. Importantly, these studies, by interrogating gender and sexual identities in China and India, underscore the great diversity to and research promise in employing a comparative lens to draw out trans-Asian challenges and solutions relating to sex and sexualities.

Each speaker is given fifteen to twenty minutes to discuss the key themes of the roundtable drawing on their research projects, methodologies and disciplinary backgrounds. Each speaker will also respond to other speakers’ project from a trans-Asian perspective. The remainder of the time will be allocated for questions and comments from the audience.

 

Moderator: Maria Tanyag (Monash University)

 

Speakers

Dr Mridula Nath Chakraborty (Monash University)

One Gay Ad at a Time: Alternative sexualities and the market in India

Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which came into force in 1862, criminalises homosexuality. The 15-year battle to repeal the colonial-era statute has been gathering traction in the past couple of years. In July 2009, the Delhi High court decriminalised consensual homosexual acts in private, only for the Supreme Court to recriminalize it in December 2013. Even as there emerges a national consensus that discrimination based on sexual preferences keep India out of step with international developments and political support are in place such as the official declaration of the third gender as ‘transgender’ in April 2014 in a bid to include them within affirmative action governmental policies. These official recognitions and mis-recognitions are now being aided by civil society actions, not only in the community and political arena, but also through neoliberal capital. This paper will look at some of the ways in which the conversation and debate around alternative sexualities is being harnessed by market forces, while the material issues of the constitutional rights languish and heteronormative patriarchal forces become even stronger in contemporary India.

 

Bio

Dr Mridula Nath Chakraborty is Deputy Director of the Monash Asia Institute at Monash University, Melbourne. Mridula has edited Being Bengali: at home and in the world, an enquiry into the intellectual history of this linguistic group from Bangladesh and India (Routledge 2014). She is the co-editor of Abohelaar Bhangon Naame Booke/Broken by Neglect, a bilingual edition of Nunga poet Ali Cobby Eckermann’s poetry from English to Bengali (2014) and A Treasury of Bangla Stories (1997). Most recently, Mridula has convened high-impact projects in literary-cultural diplomacy between Australia and India, such as Australia-India Literatures International Forum (Sydney 2013), the Autumn School in Literary Translation (Kolkata 2013) and Literary Commons: Writing Australia-India in the Asian Century with Indigenous, Dalit and Multilingual Tongues (2014-2015).

 

 

Karen Parker (ARCSHS, La Trobe University)

Language Endangerment as a Public Health Issue: a case study from North East India

North East India is one of the most linguistically diverse parts of the world, with over 200 languages, spoken within an area of 260,000 square kilometres. Adjacent to the mountainous Myanmar border lies the tiny former kingdom of Manipur. Manipur is a small but volatile state, with ongoing issues of tribal warfare, insurgency and political instability. The transgender community in Manipur, known as Nupi Manbi, face many difficulties both as a marginalized social group and as speakers of minority languages. It has long been acknowledged that language endangerment frequently results from forces external to a community, particularly military conflict and the effects of colonization. My work involves working with the community on a language documentation project designed to preserve aspects of their ancient linguistic and cultural practices. In this talk, I discuss how these various political, economic and social factors impact on a minority language community who are further marginalized in terms of their gender identity. I argue that language endangerment issues in this community are related to public health issues and community well-being and mediated by complex gender identities.

 

 

Bio

Karen Parker is a researcher in LGBTI issues at Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS) in La Trobe University. Her background is in linguistics and her PhD is a descriptive grammar of a tribal language of Arunachal Pradesh spoken in North East India and Myanmar. Karen’s main area of focus is on the intersection of language, gender and sexuality in the context of contemporary India.

 

Keren Yi (University of Melbourne)

Global Cities/Local Queers: ‘Balinghou’ & ‘Jiulinghou’ Chinese Queer Specificity and its Spatial Articulations

The ‘coming-out’ paradigm is a prevalent narrative in Anglo-American LGBT social movements over the past 40 years, and it upholds a dominant position in a ‘global queer discourse’. In larger metropolitan centres, the proliferation of such rhetoric carried spatial implications and was often accompanied by the maturation of gay villages, neighbourhoods, and other dedicated queer spaces. By contrast, the absence of Mainland China in the early decades of LGBT social movements may explain its lack of safe spaces for the non-heterosexual population during the same period. However, China has ‘opened-up’ since the 1980s. This has resulted in international flows of queer culture and the introduction of knowledge aiding the formation of a hybridized queer subjectivity that is highlighted by both cross-cultural continuities and its unique ‘Chineseness’. My research project offers a re-imagination of the spatiality of queer existence in contemporary Chinese urban centers, and specifically among the post-1980 and post-1990 generations (balinghou and jiulinghou). Drawing on existing literatures and interview sessions with 21 young Chinese gay men, this paper first examines the forms and availabilities of spaces for queer socialization in several large Chinese cities. Second, it considers the impact of Internet-enabled new media; how it alters the conception of public/private, ’closetedness’/’outness’, and creates new spaces for socialization and identity articulation for this generation of queer digital natives. Last, it proposes to open a conversation on the spatial implications of ‘global queer discourses’ and Chinese socio-cultural specificities on the young Chinese queer subjects, as well as how they produce new forms of queer mobility.

 

Bio

Keren is a postgraduate student at the School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne. His research interests include gender and sexuality, social media, and Asian cultural studies.