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Queer Politics and Sexual Modernity in Taiwan

Queer Politics and Sexual Modernity in Taiwan

Hans Tao-Ming Huang
Series: Queer Asia
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Queer Politics and Sexual Modernity in Taiwan
    Book Description:

    This book analyses the critical reception of Pai Hsien-yung’s Crystal Boys, one of Taiwan’s first recognized gay novels, and one which has played an important role in redefining sexual modernity and linking this to ongoing cultural dialogues on state building. It examines the deployment of sexuality over the past five decades in Taiwan by paying particular attention to male homosexuality and prostitution. In addition to literary and film material, the study engages a number of relevant legal cases and media reports. Through Hans Huang’s primary research and historical investigations, the book not only illuminates the construction of gendered sexual identities in Taiwanese culture but also, in a reflexive fashion, critiques the culture that produces them.

    eISBN: 978-988-8053-80-3
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-30)

    How has male homosexuality been configured within the space of national/state culture in Taiwan since 1949? Under what normative conditions and regulatory regimes of gender and sexuality has the male homosexual body been materialised? Through what discursive means does the individual, interpolated as male homosexual, articulate himself as the desiring subject and enact resistant forms of politics from within that cultural terrain? Finally, what does it mean to be queer in Taiwan? Queer Politics and Sexual Modernity in Taiwan seeks to construct a cultural history and politics of sexuality in Taiwan by looking at the interface between queerness and the...

  5. 1 Mental Hygiene and the Regime of Sexuality: The Case of The Man Who Escapes Marriage
    (pp. 31-52)

    This chapter accounts for the construction of male homosexuality from the 1950s through the 1970s by tracking ways in which male same-sex relations and genital acts are configured in psychological discourse integral to the apparatus of sexuality. By ‘apparatus of sexuality’, I follow Foucault by construing sexuality as a discursive product of institutional knowledge and disciplinary power. Through examining scientific discourses and fictional representation, I aim to delineate a normative culture of sex wherein male same-sex relations and genital acts came to be psychologised as sexual perversion. I begin by making the case for formulating the apparatus of sexuality as...

  6. 2 Prostitution, Perversion and AIDS: The Secrets of the ‘Glass Clique’
    (pp. 53-82)

    This chapter examines the representation of male homosexuality in national newspapers from the 1950s through to the 1980s. Following the previous chapter’s investigation into the apparatus of xingxinli or ‘sexuality’, this one describes a process whereby this apparatus came to be installed within the domain of news production. As mental hygiene experts continued to inculcate normative knowledge about xingxinli or ‘sexuality’ throughout the 1960s and 1970s, journalists began to apply their theories of abnormal psychology to deviant individuals such as male prostitutes and to crimes involving same-sex relations and genital acts. In particular, I pay specific attention to the terms...

  7. 3 State Power, Prostitution and Sexual Order: Towards a Genealogical Critique of ‘Virtuous Custom’
    (pp. 83-112)

    This chapter concerns the state regulation of sexualities and the formation of gendered subjectivities in postwar Taiwan. It considers, by way of genealogical investigation, the policed culture of sex under the regulatory regime of ‘virtuous custom’ (shanliang fengsu) as sustained by the now defunct Police Offence Law. By analysing the police and journalistic discourse of sex between the 1950s and 1980s, it traces the process whereby a particular segment-line of contemporary Taiwan dominant social/sexual order came to be established through the state’s banning of prostitution. As this genealogical project is motivated by an immediate political concern for the historical present,...

  8. 4 From Glass Clique to Tongzhi Nation: Crystal Boys, Identity Formation and Politics of Sexual Shame
    (pp. 113-142)

    This chapter addresses the central problematic of the book that I posed in the introductory chapter by proposing a historically and movement-wise contextualised reading of Crystal Boys. It begins by showing the making of Crystal Boys as a male homosexual sign in the 1980s in Taiwan, and proceeds to examine the imagined communities represented within and configured through the novel respectively. It asks what it means for the tongzhi movement when political identification is made with such a particular cultural text, which represents, I shall argue, a specific mode of oppression pertaining to male prostitution. Reading against the narrative grain,...

  9. 5 Modernising Gender, Civilising Sex: State Feminism and Perverse Imagination
    (pp. 143-172)

    With this little poem, Liu Yu-hsiu, Taiwan’s foremost state feminist, commenced her presentation in the Third National Women’s Conference in Taipei in 1998, a year named as the Year of Equality Action.² Expressively serene, the poem reflects a feminist sense of hope, an optimism gesturing towards a new era when the feminine virtue of love replaces masculine aggression, a future where equality rules. Liu’s presentation begins by situating the women’s movement as a challenge to the progression of modernity initiated since the Declaration of Human Rights, a progression, she argues, that has been characterised by the continual patriarchal and capitalist...

  10. 6 Mourning the Monogamous Ideal: Anti-Prostitution Feminism, Conjugal Sentimentality and the Formation of Melancholic Sexual Modernity
    (pp. 173-200)

    Having delineated the contour of state feminism and its normative dimensions, this chapter continues to query the moral-sexual regime of the mainstream feminist culture by considering its emotional and affective make-up. By way of concluding this work of queer historiography in Taiwan, this chapter concerns itself with the analysis of a dominant form of female sentimentality that animates the hegemonic rise of anti-prostitution/obscenity feminist public sphere since the mid-1990s. By showing how this feeling culture propels a liberal form of state governance, which has intensified the regulation of non-conjugal intimacies and ‘public sex’ under the child-protection imperative of late in...

  11. Epilogue
    (pp. 201-206)

    When I was working on my PhD dissertation in England in the mid-to-late 1990s, an event occurred in Taiwan which made a profound impact on me. I am referring to the former president Chen Shu-bian’s abrupt abrogation of licensed prostitution in 1997, which in turn sparked off the prostitutes’ rights movement in Taiwan. Employing Crystal Boys as a medium of articulation, I was trying at the time to construct a history and politics of male homosexuality in contemporary Taiwanese society. Although I had found during the research process that there was a solid link between the media construction of the...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 207-238)
  13. Glossary of Special Names and Terms
    (pp. 239-246)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 247-270)
  15. Index
    (pp. 271-276)