Regional Approaches to Asian Queer Cinema

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Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture

Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture

Special Issue 15.3: Regional Approaches to Queer Asian Cinema
Edited by James Wren

There have been many full-length monographs dealing with the issue of Queer Asian cinema, and beyond a certain degree of redundancy, all are, when said and done, either overly general in their summation, offer few new insights into the subject, or focus on the same half-dozen examples as evidence of some still-uncertain theme. Regionalism is, for the most part, excluded from discussions. Thus, when we speak of Queer Asian cinema, we concomitantly speak of a paradox, of a homogeneous entity that we somehow have "pulled together" as a singular, clearly defined mediation of time and space.

To remedy these issues, Reconstruction solicits papers from scholars worldwide to challenge our current paradigms which provide readings of one or more works across time and space through the specific lens of regionalism.

To take one example, even the most cursory examination of the long history of the film in China and its sophisticated development and evolution into the multifaceted products we witness today suggest an obvious different view. In place of a single China, we speak of Mainland China/Han China/ Beijing-focused film, etc., alongside Hong Kong Film, Macao Cinema, Taiwanese Film, Diaspora Film (hwachou film as for example, but including Peramekan film, Ethnic Chinese American or Chinese-in-Japan Filmmakers), etc. Immediately, the potential for cultural difference--real difference--ought be obvious.

Or consider the various associations and characteristics attached to such terms as Han, Tibetan, Fujian or Shandong (ask, for example, someone in the Mainland the question: "Which region of China has the most 'masculine' men? While the answers may vary considerably (having done this, I have been told that men in Shandong are most handsome--obviously a stereotype co-opted and widely expressed; Shandong men are in the same breath described as being "less educated" or "less sophisticated"), certain shared subjectivities come to light. The same can be said for Singapore Chinese, HK Chinese or even those from Gansu or Fujian.

In truth, it appears that certain images of gender identity and construction exist throughout the various venues we term Asia and that these differ one from the other, oftentimes in significant and important ways (insofar as they mediate how we view the text and its dealings with sexual orientation).

Or, consider the connotations that a "Seoul Man" carries when compared to someone originating in Korea's Busan region. Invariably, individuals from Busan and localities nearby will note that Seoul masculinity is "tainted," affected, at times overtly "homocentric." Likewise, individuals from Seoul are quick to point out that Busan masculinity is built upon an artifice of machismo, that individuals are intentionally uncultured and rude--and that these are the marks of a "manly" (non-gay) Korean man.

These are but a few examples of regional differentiations and stereotypes that, just as in American cinema, inevitably find themselves entering, more or less directly, into the visual landscape that represents Queer Asian cinema. What does it mean when, to borrow a phrase from Roland Barthes, "the stereotype goes queer"? How do various films or directors invoke, promote, and subvert regional stereotypes relating to representations of LBGTQ individuals and communities? What do we learn about various subcultures and regions throughout Asia when the traditionally straight lens of anthropology is given a queer twist? Other approaches, as long as they address regionalism in some way, are also welcome.

Send inquiries at any time and completed manuscripts of no more than 10,000 words to James A.Wren at by July 1, 2014. Letters of interest, including region and possible films to be covered are welcomed (single sentences are satisfactory at this point). The editor welcomes and encourages every opportunity to establish contact with prospective writers at any time prior to submission.

Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture (ISSN: 1547-4348) is an innovative online cultural studies journal dedicated to fostering an intellectual community composed of scholars and their audience, granting them all the ability to share thoughts and opinions on the most important and influential work in contemporary interdisciplinary studies. Reconstruction publishes three Themed Issues and one Open Issue per year.

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