Brown Boys and Rice Queens

Brown Boys and Rice Queens: Spellbinding Performance in the Asias

Eng-Beng Lim
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 255
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  • Book Info
    Brown Boys and Rice Queens
    Book Description:

    A transnational study of Asian performance shaped by the homoerotics of orientalism,Brown Boys and Rice Queensfocuses on the relationship between the white man and the native boy. Eng-Beng Lim unpacks this as the central trope for understanding colonial and cultural encounters in 20th and 21st century Asia and its diaspora. Using the native boy as a critical guide, Lim formulates alternative readings of a traditional Balinese ritual, postcolonial Anglophone theatre in Singapore, and performance art in Asian America.Tracing the transnational formation of the native boy as racial fetish object across the last century, Lim follows this figure as he is passed from the hands of the colonial empire to the postcolonial nation-state to neoliberal globalization. Read through such figurations, the traffic in native boys among white men serves as an allegory of an infantilized and emasculated Asia, subordinate before colonial whiteness and modernity. Pushing further, Lim addresses the critical paradox of this entrenched relationship that resides even within queer theory itself by formulating critical interventions around Asian performance.Eng-Beng Limis Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies at Brown University, and a faculty affiliate of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, Department of East Asian Studies, and Department of American Studies. He is also a Gender and Sexuality Studies board member at the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women.In theSexual Culturesseries

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-6056-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE: The Queer Genesis of a Project
    (pp. ix-xvi)
    (pp. xvii-xxii)
  5. INTRODUCTION: Tropic Spells, Performance, and the Native Boy
    (pp. 1-40)

    The thunderous applause at Brooklyn Academy of Music’s New Wave Festival operaA House in Bali(2010) reached an electric climax as the troupe of gamelan musicians and Balinese dancers filled the length of the stage.A House in Baliis based on a memoir of the same title published in 1947 by Colin McPhee, who is widely considered a progenitor of world music, particularly his transcription of Balinese ceremonial music for the piano.¹ Written by the MIT music professor Evan Ziporyn in honor of McPhee and their shared (but separate) pilgrimages to Bali in 1981 and 1931, respectively, the...

    (pp. 41-90)

    By the 1930s, when Noel Coward turned to Charlie Chaplin with this ditty about the surfeit of “artistic endeavour” in Bali,¹ reports had been filtering out to Europe and America that the island, “not Fiji or Samoa or Hawaii, was the genuine, unspoiled tropical paradise, known as yet, even by reputation, only by the cognoscenti, a category with which all of the more affluent world travelers sought to identify themselves, as did a certain few more or less learned scholars.”² Coward’s wry ascription of magic to the Balinese native, at once a kind of Asian encounter and a colonial spell,...

    (pp. 91-136)

    From Bali to Singapore, the transmogrification of the classic white man/brown boy configuration into the postcolonial father-state vis-à-vis its gay citizenry presents a conceptual iteration of the dyad with its own erotic, juridical, and performative spells. This “twist” involves unlikely bedfellows, the Singapore father-state and partying gay boys, intertwined in queer positions that are sometimes fabulous and sometimes bizarre. For both parties, these are often compromising positions that have a set of requisite, if also incriminating, role-play: the state is an unctuous but also leering patriarch, while gay men with sizeable disposable incomes are wild, promiscuous boys performing for him...

    (pp. 137-166)

    The acronym G.A.P., which stands variously for Gay Asian Princess, Gay Asian Pacific, or Gay Asian Performance, is a mock assemblage of puns, wayward Asian identifications, and queer acts on improper routes and cartographies. Neither a fixed genre of theater nor an identity marker of Asians writ large, G.A.P. is a set of performative cruisings made by the native boy in at least three cognate fields: queer studies, ethnic studies, and theater studies. These cruisings ride on G.A.P.’s polysemicP—Princess, Pacific, Performance—which signpost each of the three aforesaid fields with recent, transnational turns. They connect the discursive gaps...

  9. CONCLUSION: Toward a Minor-Native Epistemology in Transcolonial Borderzones
    (pp. 167-190)

    In her now classic essay “Where Have All the Natives Gone?,” Rey Chow likens modernity’s preoccupation with nativizing cultures to a colonial visual technology in which the native becomes useful and falsely knowable to her onlooker. Using photography as her key example, Chow argues that the reproduction of the native as the visual other presents a set of tricky conundrums about our relationship to the technology of this enduring image: do “we” critique the image itself, expose the machinery of its truth-effects, or call for a substitute? The native, as concept or body, image or historical experience, thus becomes a...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 191-220)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 221-232)
    (pp. 233-233)