Homonationalism, Femonationalism and Ablenationalism
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Homonationalism, Femonationalism and Ablenationalism

Critical Pedagogies Contextualised

Angeliki Sifaki, C.L. Quinan, Katarina Lončarević, Angeliki Sifaki, C.L. Quinan, Katarina Lončarević

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📖 eBook - ePub

Homonationalism, Femonationalism and Ablenationalism

Critical Pedagogies Contextualised

Angeliki Sifaki, C.L. Quinan, Katarina Lončarević, Angeliki Sifaki, C.L. Quinan, Katarina Lončarević

About This Book

This edited volume engages with a range of geographical, political and cultural contexts to intervene in ongoing scholarly discussions on the intersection of nationalism with gender, sexuality and race.

The book maps and analyses the racially and sexually normativising power of homonationalist, femonationalist and ablenationalist dynamics and structures, three strands of research that have thus far remained separate. Scholars and practitioners from different geopolitical and academic contexts highlight research on the complexities of women's, LGBTQ+ communities' and dis/abled individuals' engagements with and subsumption within nationalist projects. Homonationalism, Femonationalism and Ablenationalism: Critical Pedagogies Contextualised offers added value for those researching and teaching on topics related to gender, sexuality, disability, (post)coloniality and nationalism and includes new pedagogical strategies for addressing such timely global phenomena.

This dynamic interdisciplinary volume is ideal for those teaching gender studies, and for students and scholars in gender studies, international relations and sexuality studies.

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Part I


1 Homonationalism as a Site of Contestation and Transformation

On Queer Subjectivities and Homotransnationalism across Sinophone Societies

Wen Liu and Charlie Yi Zhang
This chapter applies the critical scholarship of homonationalism to Sinophone contexts, and explores unfolding contestation over nation-state boundaries and imaginaries as China (officially the People’s Republic of China, PRC) seeks to advance its dominant presence in Taiwan (officially the Republic of China, ROC), Hong Kong and other Chinese-speaking communities.1 China’s aggressive stance has entailed escalating confrontation with other imperialist forces, particularly the United States, pushing the world to the brink of a new Cold War. Seen in this light, our analysis provides new materials to reexamine the applicability of Jasbir Puar’s (2013, 2007/2017) trailblazing concept of homonationalism in a non-US context, and expands its critical scope in the midst of drastic upheavals for possibilities of transformative queer politics. Since its inception, the framework of homonationalism has inspired a plethora of formidable critiques of nationalistic appropriation and absorption of some queer subjects at the cost of the racialised, gendered, classed and colonised others. And yet, their purviews are often overdetermined by a Western prism, leaving limited space to engage nation-states not simply as entities of suppression and domination, but also as sites of contestation and subversive potential in sociohistorical contexts where liberal traditions have been underdeveloped.
Given dramatically changing global dynamics, we propose to rearticulate the framework of “homotransnationalism” that was initially proposed by Paola Bacchetta and Jin Haritaworn (2011) in order to enrich the critical scholarship of homonationalism. With “homotransnationalism”, Bacchetta and Haritaworn foreground “the production and specifically transnational circulation of neoliberal, orientalist, sexist and queerphobic discourses, such as about persecuted Muslim women or queers” (2011, 134; emphasis in the original). In other words, their goal is to trace the proliferation of the Western notion of “homonationalism” and to dissect its pernicious consequences in transnational settings. These discursive formations, they suggest, “flow mainly across Global Northern borders but also elsewhere” in the wake of the rise of “white gay activism targeting racialized inner city neighborhoods in order to perform them as sites in need of greater surveillance” and emancipation (2011, 134). Different from their Western-focused approach, we adopt the homotransnational framework to foreground the everyday struggles of LGBTQ groups living in Sinophone contexts and highlight the intra-regional dynamics of queer politics and competing nationalisms between the PRC, Taiwan and Hong Kong. As our analysis demonstrates, these grassroots activists are not only able to find room in the midst of rivalries between overpowering imperial forces for survival, but are also able to identify fissures and ruptures afforded by brewing geopolitical competition and turn them into opportunities for concrete change on local levels. The strategic deployment of queerness proves vital for them to develop a cross-border platform to build solidarity and create conditions of transformative change.
As a response to the dominant liberal discourse of sexual freedom and human rights in tandem with neoliberal restructuring that started in the late 1970s, homonationalism provides a critical tool to unpack how grassroots LGBTQ movements for structural changes surging in the West in the 1960s were neutralised and displaced into individualistic projects that focus primarily on personal liberty and recognition. As Roderick Ferguson notes, a new form of queer liberalism incorporates minoritised subjects through selective recognition to revamp rather than repudiate dominant structures of inequalities. As he sees it, this form of governance sets up a “laboratory for the revalorization of modes of differences” as a vital modus operandi for capital and state in neoliberal conditions (2012, 12). Similarly, Lisa Duggan’s articulation of “new homonormativity” (2003) provides a prime example that shows how the rights-bearing liberalist framework distinguishes itself from the “extremism” of the left and right politics and incorporates sexual minorities into subgroups of private citizenship with asymmetrical access to privilege and legibility to further neoliberal restructuring. Like Duggan, Puar’s perspicacious mapping of homonationalism (2007/2017, 2013) diagnoses changes of nation-states taking place against this background, and expounds how Western modernity is reformulated via queer sexual modernity through inclusion of certain homosexual bodies as proper citizens, while further marginalising other ill-adapted sexual subjects. Yet the rise of far-right nationalist groups has put the neoliberal order of multiculturalism into question (Melamed 2006). The Trump administration in the United States issued an array of anti-LGBTQ exclusion acts such as removing LGBTQ groups and resources from the federal government and implementing bans related to transgender individuals serving in the military (The National Center for Transgender Equality 2020). Following Trump, more right-wing politicians have turned the presumably pluralist “identity politics” on its head into hateful masculinist, homophobic and white supremacist discourse that helped secure their electoral victories across the world (cf. Burton 2018; Faulconbridge and MacLellan 2019).
Additionally, under the current framework of homonationalism, nation-building and belonging are often deemed inherently normative and regressive, thereby limiting our scope for exploring how new possibilities emerge in the process of making demands toward and against the state apparatuses that could benefit subordinate groups. In a highly connected world, contestations over nation-states cut across and extend beyond pre-existing physical and imaginary boundaries, fraught with ruptures and contradictions that allow queer subjects and sexual minorities to create contingent space for resistance and survival. Different from Western societies where liberal democracy reigns as the predominant governing tenor, legal protection and discursive recognition of queer subjects are still limited at the state level across Sinophone societies (except in Taiwan, where same-sex marriage has been in place since 2019). For subjugated groups located in and/or coming from these backgrounds, uncritically adopting the framework of homonationalism can create a conceptual conundrum: on the one hand, they are pressured to take a “culturally essentialist approach” that denies the cross-border circuit of Western sexual discourses, replicating the reductive narrative that Sinophone societies are and should be exterior to sexual modernity (Chou 2000; Wu 2003); on the other, they have to wrestle with a “queer vanguardist approach” that views social recognition via a liberalist lens as not only unnecessary but also pernicious to queer subjects and the radical potential of queer movements (Huang 2011; Bao 2018). We argue that both approaches erase inherent heterogeneities across Sinophone societies, reinforce the East vs. West (and often, China vs. West) dichotomy, and silence subordinate groups fighting hard for recognition and survival as merely conforming to Western hegemony. In the face of the escalating geopolitical contestation in the Sinophone contexts, queer subjects often find themselves trapped between rivalling imperialist forces, the US and China in particular, with limited resources at hand to develop coalitional connections for mutual support and collaboration.
Our analysis focuses on the geopolitical struggles that span China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the “liberal” West to develop a new understanding of the relationship between nation-states and gender/sexuality. This queerness-induced transnational network complicates Puar’s concept of homonationalism by focusing on emerging challenges that queer subjects are confronted with across national borders. Our query proceeds in three parts. First, we employ queer Sinophone studies (Chiang and Heinrich 2014) to develop a gendered and sexual optic to revisit the construction of “China” and “Chineseness” as ongoing and contested processes rather than foreclosed entities. Our inquiry decentres the hegemonic narratives of ethnic/national attachment and political affiliation that often hinge upon the PRC across Sinophone societies. Second, we delineate the sexualised strategies that Taiwan has taken in order to solidify its connection with the “liberal” West and tackle China’s heightening threat. Such analysis helps unravel the cross-border discursive circulation of homonationalism against the background of boiling geopolitical confrontation in the new Cold War. Finally, we identify cases in Taiwan, Hong Kong and the PRC to explore how the sexualised and gendered articulations across Sinophone societies allow for both challenges and opportunities for activists to build communities for social change.

Unpacking the Heteronormative Underpinning of the “Chinese” Nation-State

Although scholars have provided scathing critiques of the role that gender plays in creating and upholding national boundaries through Chinese history (cf. Gilmartin et al. 1994; Zhang 2016), it is the turn to Sinophone queer studies that has inspired a new perspective to tease out the hidden heteronormative façade pervading narratives of nationalisms and to extend the scope beyond the caliber of “China” and “Chineseness” revolving around the PRC. Shih Shu-mei, a leading theorist in Sinophone studies, explicates how queer Sinophone serves as a “conjunctive method” that affirms the margins of gender and sexuality in queer studies as well as nations and nationlessness in Sinophone studies (2013, 224). The problematic entanglements between “China” and “queer” are not only about the PRC’s pervasive influence in the national and cultural imagination of Sinophone queers, but are also ingrained in the historical, geopolitical and epistemological parameters of queer studies defined by the naturalised “Chinese same-sex eroticism” as a mirrored Other to Western sexuality (Liu 2010). Sinophone queer studies, in essence, pushes us to untangle the heteronormative underpinning of the “Chinese” nation-state, and more importantly, develop a queer perspective to interrogate “Chinese” nationalism beyond the PRC and engage contestation over nation-state across “margins” such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, and other diasporic communities.
As Susan Mann argues, the prominent role of the state in defining gender relations and sexuality “is a unique, enduring feature of Chinese history that sets the Chinese experience apart from other modern industrial nations” (2011, xvii). The effort to build a modern Chinese nation-state can be traced back to the early twentieth century in the wake of the subversion of the feudalist order. Since the 1920s, both Nationalist and Communist intelligentsia have invoked sexual and gendered scripts to articulate their envisioning of a modern China. For instance, the Communists defined “women’s status as equal citizens as a marker of China’s arrival at modernity”, and the Nationalist Party foregrounded the emancipation of women as a key part of the National Revolution in the 1930s (Gilmartin et al. 1994, 2). In the 1930s, various discursive efforts surrounding female sex workers surfaced to gain moral advantage for leading the envisioning of China’s future, and women’s sexuality became a site of struggle that “embraced populations from various nations, regions, and classes, and harboured political agitators ranging from Christian moral reformers to Marxist revolutionaries” (Hershatter 1997, 7).
With the PRC’s foundation in 1949, gender and sexuality continued to be appropriated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to build and fortify the nascent regime. As Tani Barlow (1994) notes, compared with the “classless society” utopia considered to be the defin...

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Citation styles for Homonationalism, Femonationalism and AblenationalismHow to cite Homonationalism, Femonationalism and Ablenationalism for your reference list or bibliography: select your referencing style from the list below and hit 'copy' to generate a citation. If your style isn't in the list, you can start a free trial to access over 20 additional styles from the Perlego eReader.
APA 6 Citation
Sifaki, A., Quinan, CL., & Lončarević, K. (2022). Homonationalism, Femonationalism and Ablenationalism (1st ed.). Taylor and Francis. Retrieved from https://www.perlego.com/book/3294056/homonationalism-femonationalism-and-ablenationalism-critical-pedagogies-contextualised-pdf (Original work published 2022)
Chicago Citation
Sifaki, Angeliki, CL. Quinan, and Katarina Lončarević. (2022) 2022. Homonationalism, Femonationalism and Ablenationalism. 1st ed. Taylor and Francis. https://www.perlego.com/book/3294056/homonationalism-femonationalism-and-ablenationalism-critical-pedagogies-contextualised-pdf.
Harvard Citation
Sifaki, A., Quinan, CL. and Lončarević, K. (2022) Homonationalism, Femonationalism and Ablenationalism. 1st edn. Taylor and Francis. Available at: https://www.perlego.com/book/3294056/homonationalism-femonationalism-and-ablenationalism-critical-pedagogies-contextualised-pdf (Accessed: 15 October 2022).
MLA 7 Citation
Sifaki, Angeliki, CL. Quinan, and Katarina Lončarević. Homonationalism, Femonationalism and Ablenationalism. 1st ed. Taylor and Francis, 2022. Web. 15 Oct. 2022.