Queering the Transpacific: Asian American, American and Asian Queer Studies

deadline for submissions: 
June 30, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Alan Williams

(The deadline for this CFP has been extended to June 30, 2017.) 
 In an era of neo-nationalism and the waning of Pax Americana, Asia ascends and transpacific tensions rise, evident in both Obama’s Pivot to Asia policy, but now Trump’s America First policy that has sharpened the threat of military conflict in the South China Sea and/or the Korean peninsula.  A post-national Asian/American studies is thinking more robustly about transpacific relations that pay more attention to histories of Afro-Asian solidarity and methods of comparison beyond Asian nationalism and economic relations alone. What this means for queer critique is less clear, however. Critiques of homonationalism as well as formulations of queer international studies have pushed for critical approaches to Western international policy and its racial and gendered legacies. For example, Petrus Liu has discussed how queer liberalism and homonationalism inhere white ascendancy and Asian belatedness, and thus have limited application when thinking about Asian queerness. Queer studies in Asia takes intra-national and regional approaches that provincialize the West, including questioning the “origin-copy” relations between US and Asian queer studies; yet, in many Asian academic contexts, feminist and queer studies are still marginalized and often regarded as “Western” as a reflection of the Euro-American-centrism or assumed universalism of feminist and queer studies in the West. Seldom is the transpacific considered as an historical genealogy and theoretical possibility that cuts across the aforementioned disciplinary formations.

The growth, maintenance, and potential clash of US, Japanese, and Chinese international ambitions, as well as transpacific complicity with the postwar liberal-pluralist framework through economic and military partnerships like ASEAN, (an almost defunct) Trans-Pacific Partnership and the US-Japan Alliance means that East-West critical discourse is both imperative but inadequate without a rigorous theorizing of the transpacific. What is needed is more productive inter-regional dialogue. This is a call to bring Asian queer studies and queer Asian/American studies in better conversation with one another to develop queer transpacific critique. Possible themes include bridging insights of “queer of color,” transatlantic, diasporic and regional methods; theorizing the confluence of racialization and queer critique in sites and times of transpacific cooperation and conflict; queer critique of racial politics in Asia, e.g., racism generated by more economically powerful Asian nation-states towards “other” Asians, or in terms of ethnic and religious difference; considerations of queer (im)mobility across borders, e.g., queer tourism and medical tourism; considerations of queer transpacific historiography and archive; queer transpacific critique on the production/consumption of subcultural media (cinema, TV dramas, manga, anime); queer temporalities that territorialize homonationalism and queer liberalism in relation to Asian universalisms and/or particularisms, e.g., disruptions of Asian nationalist historiographies and Eurocentric capital; queer transpacific critique on nationalism, neo-conservatism, neoliberalism, illiberalism; (im)possibilities of queer transpacific solidarity under the new militarism in Asia; reflections on queer transpacific disciplinarity, affect, aesthetics; repressed queer voices under Asian economic, political and military growth.

Potential contributors should send 250-word abstracts to queer.transpacific@gmail.com. Queries are also welcome! We are in contact with a journal, and a proposal will be drawn up for a themed issue once abstracts are collected. First drafts of 5000-7000 word essays would be due at a later date with the expectation that all contributors will workshop each other’s papers for submission early 2018.

Kazuyoshi Kawasaka (University of Sussex)
Alan Williams (University of Washington)