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Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture
Introducing Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture
Issue 14.1 The Undead Arcade
Featuring original artwork by Amanda Lee Stillwell
Introduction to the issue by Carly A. Kocurek and Sam Tobin
The Midway in the Museum: Arcades, Art, and the Challenge of Displaying Play, by Jennifer deWinter
Innovation, Imitation, and the Continued Importance of Vintage Video Games, by Brendan Gaughen
The Intertextual Arcade: tracing histories of arcade clones in 1980s Britain, by Alison Gazzard
Scott Pilgrim vs. The Casual Gamer: Pastiched Chip Music and Cultural Identity, by Megan McKittrick
After Life History: An Interview with Raiford Guins on his "Game After: A Cultural Study of Video Game Afterlife" by Samuel Tobin
FunSpot, arcade review by Elias Aoude
Pinball World Championship, event review by Megan R. Brown
The Ghosts in the Machine, review by Adriana E. Ramirez
The Art of Failure: An Essay on the Pain of Playing Video Games, review by Ian Reyes
Reconstruction is Also Currently Accepting Submissions for the Following Special Issues:
Reconstruction 15.1: Resisting and Reproducing: Reconstructing the matrix of sexual politics in Greater China and Singapore
Edited by Chiu Man-chung
From the 1980s, after the rise of postmodernism and postcolonialism, people started to understand that there are no authentic meanings of sex/uality, gender, justice and law across different cultural and legal discourses / machines. That is still the situation in this age of virtual Global-Localization and Internet; i.e. how the dynamics among the above mentioned concepts are re-constructed, inter-re-produced and mutually-manufactured in particular / singular matrices still requires meticulous investigation and detailed examination. This special issue aims to put the deliberation and discussion of sexual politics in the cultural and jurisdictional context of Greater China and Singapore, the so called 'poor little rich girls', where there are fast growing economics and financial markets, but a lack of sufficient human rights protection mechanisms and an acceptance of sexual powerless. The articles collected in this volume not only engage with sexual politics in the discourse of law, but also in a religious context and within an economic matrix.
The special issue starts with the article of Professor Huang Ying-ying of Ren Min University of China. She sets her discussion of sexual politics in Mainland China within the context of the deployment of market-based economic reforms and Open Door Policy (1970s), and argues that economic growth has brought changes in sexual desire, practices and identities in Mainland China. According to Huang, the changes have occurred on two parallel yet singular levels: on the one hand, new types of sexual politics and knowledge are reproduced, and that has brought with it an affirmative and rights-based understanding of sexuality; on the other hand, a scientific, medicalized and anti-obscenity movement was brought to Mainland China via two waves of the sexology movement that occurred respectively in the early 20th Century and in the 1980s.
The argument put forward by Huang creates the context of further discussion in relation to the legal control of sexuality in Mainland China. Professor Guo Xiao-fei of China University of Political Science and Law in his article rightly points out, from the perspective of sociology, that even though the criminal law controlling sexual offenses in Mainland China is vague and seems loose, it can still be used to suppress the sexually powerless as there is a lack of constitutional protection provided for the sexually powerless and those classified as sexual “deviants”.
When comparing the criminal laws in Mainland China and Singapore, we find that, from the paradigm of critical socio-legal studies and gender / sexuality politics, they are surprisingly (or not) similar. According to Dr. Laurence Leong of Singapore National University, although Singapore, like Mainland China, is economically very prosperous and powerful, there is still a serious lack of legal protection for the LesBiGayTrans community. Through the lens of anti-discrimination, he discusses recent cases on sexual orientation discrimination, and critically explores the questions of judiciary independence and (lack of) connection between law and society in Singapore.
Hong Kong, like Singapore, was a former British Colony; but is now (since 1997) a Special Administrative Region in Mainland China. Due to the absence of universal suffrage in Hong Kong, the will and views of the majority (reflected and constituted by survey and media) become the only voice and construct the legal discourse, when it comes to legislation and human rights protection. In other words, protection of and respect for the sexual powerless, in the context of law making, becomes extremely difficult. Dr. Joseph Cho, a renowned activist, elaborates the hurdles that he faced and negotiated in the last two decades. The focus of his article is placed on the dynamics and interactions between Hong Kong hardline Christians and the parents in the discourse of education.
It is the above-mentioned machine which has created the series of reforms related to law controlling sexual assault in Hong Kong that have been proposed over the last decade. These include the establishment of sexual offence record checks, the revision of assumption about the age of male sexual capacity and a redefinition of rape. Chiu Man-chung, a consultant of the Association Concerning Sexual Violence against Women, analyses the reform proposals from the philosophical perspectives of Zizek and Deleuze and argues that unless the reforms can accommodate the multiple desires of different sexually powerless, they will be useless and meaningless. Chiu also argues that when considering and attempting to transfer / transplant foreign legal reforms and underlying theories into the Hong Kong/Chinese context (for example de-genderization and desexualization, Zizekian and Deleuzean schools of thought), assemblages of localization and infiltration cannot be ignored. Chiu therefore proposes that Daoism, a traditional Han-Chinese school of philosophy, can help in constructing the platform for a cultural / legal osmosis.
In 2013, a groundbreaking court case (W v. Registrar of Marriages) in Hong Kong signified the recognition of a transsexual’s marital rights. It however seems that such legal recognition does not exist in Taiwan. Maurice Chang, the Clerk of Justices of Taiwan’s Constitutional Court, argues that the transsexual’s right to marriage is in fact already protected by the current Taiwanese Constitution and related interpretations offered by Taiwan’s Constitutional Court. In his article, he examines the current situation relating to transsexual rights and reviews the existing legislation on gender change from the paradigms of human rights and comparative legal studies.
Discussion of gender discourse in Taiwan is not complete if we ignore the influence of the Taiwan Rail Public Event, where, – in 2012, a group of people engaged in group sex on a train. Professor Xu Ya-fei of NanHua University (Taiwan) argues that the incident signifies a new age of sexual freedom in thought and action, and sensitizes us towards the implications for police-state-like rule.
Please send related submissions (by May 15 to firstname.lastname@example.org) which discuss the history, development and reflection of gender / sexual culture in Greater China and Singapore.
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Reconstruction 15.2: Immersion and Intervention: Convergences in Art and Science Research
Edited by Hervé Regnauld and Alan Ramón Clinton
Traditionally, at least in practice, “humanists” have viewed nature and culture as separate spheres, while scientists have tended to view nature as a global milieu in which humans are immersed. The extent to which science has retained its humanism and to which philosophy has made a “post-human” turn presents new opportunities for rethinking the history of artistic and scientific practices as well as their potential futures. It is no accident that Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari have written about both “minor science” (characterized by hydraulic turbulence) and “minor literature” (characterized by Lucretian, tactical “swerves”), both of which produce previously unforeseen molecular objects, events, and molar recuperations.
This new philosophical situation causes us to be interested in several topoi which are not mutually exclusive:
1. Historical revaluations of the supposed separations of art and science.
2. Immersion as such: if both humanists and scientists are, inevitably, immersed in the environments they analyze, what are the relationships between, for instance, landscape (as a part of the environment), art (as a representation of landscape), and scientific landscape representation? How are both scientific and novelistic descriptions of human neurological states fictive/narrative in nature as well as illuminating?
3. Swerves and Collisions: as science and the arts produce cultural objects of unpredictable trajectory, what sorts of collisions happen or have happened by chance, what new cultural objects result, and how are these introjected, incorporated, or dissolved in the historical and phenomenological Umwelt?
4. Interventions: following Van Fraassen’s (2002) idea that both art and science intervene in the world in more or less wilful (rather than merely empirical) ways, what sort of collaborations between these two modulations of human endeavour might occur in the future, for good or ill?
Editors Regnauld and Clinton would like to see the following types of submissions: a) new interpretations from art historians and historians of science; b) analyses of specific collisions between art and science disciplines; c) philosophical and theoretical (re)articulations of art and science in light of their mutual immersion(s); d) works and or manifestos from artists and scientists who have moved outside their original disciplines; e) descriptions or demonstrations from scientists and artists who have or are collaborating on research projects.
Please send submissions to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading “Immersion and Intervention” by June 1, 2014.
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Reconstruction 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 email@example.com 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.
In Addition, Reconstruction Encourages Open Issue Submissions and Proposals for Special Issues year round:
Contact: Reconstruction Submissions Editor
We are continually accepting submissions for upcoming Open Issues, and can promise a prompt reply.
Submissions may be created from a variety of perspectives, including, but not limited to: geography, ethnography, cultural studies, folklore, architecture, history, sociology, linguistics, psychology, communications, music, philosophy, political science, semiotics, theology, art history, queer theory, literature, criminology, urban planning, gender studies, education, graphic design, etc. Both theoretical and empirical approaches are welcomed.
Guest Editor of Upcoming Themed Issue
Contact: Reconstruction Managing Editor
Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture is always interested in proposals for future Themed Issues. If you are interested in proposing a Themed Issue, please review our FAQ for Prospective Guest Editors and contact the Reconstruction Managing Editor for further information.