Researching queer performativities/subjectivities/timespaces: sociolinguistic perspectives: Part A

Author: Mike Baynham (University Of Leeds)
Tong King Lee (University Of Hong Kong)
Phil Freestone (University Of Reading)
Mie Hiramoto (National University Of Singapore)
Andrew Wong (California State University East Bay)
Speaker: Mike Baynham, Tong King Lee, Phil Freestone, Mie Hiramoto, Andrew Wong
Topic: Language, gender, sexuality
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2019 Colloquium Session

Panel Abstract

Research on language and sexuality has been a theme in linguistics for more than two decades. Recent theoretical developments, beyond sexual ”identities”‟, however mark a shift a way from essentializing views, towards an emphasis on the local production of queer performativities/subjectivities and timespaces. Yet as is well known, and the framing of this conference amply illustrates, the production of local performativities/subjectivities/timespaces is influenced maybe shaped by mobility and global flows and a pervasive, but not to be ignored, polycentricity which engenders dynamic and relational centres/peripheries (cf Moita-Lopes & Baynham 2018). It is however important to turn the critical gaze on versions of what Giametta (2017) and others term “homo-nationalism” narratives whereby, through global flows from centre to periphery, the enlightened as it were redemptory North disseminates values of tolerance and openness on questions of sexuality to closed “traditional” societies in the global South and East. We think it makes more sense to ask how these global flows are locally appropriated, made over, ironized, in the production of locally inflected queer performativities/subjectivities/ and timespaces. Nor is our emphasis simply on the here-and-now of contemporary mobilities and flows. It has often been important in the political emergence of queer subjectivities to rediscover an erased history or confront the violence of historical moments that have shaped perceptions of sexuality in late modernity. One instance of the latter is the repeated evidence of same sex desire being stigmatized and criminalized in colonized countries during the colonial period, (for example the Spanish and Portuguese in South America, the British in India, Singapore, West Africa and elsewhere). Such “historical” power imbalances and their ongoing consequences might be seen to be played out in a continuing way in current post colonial times by orientalizing phenomena such as sex tourism. An instance of the former is in the tendency for the conscious emergence of the queer in a given society to look for local queer traditions in history and literature to be invoked, providing as it were local genealogy and descent for the emergence and validation of locally inflected queer performativities/subjectivities and timespaces: for example traditions of male/male love in classical Chinese and Japanese literature. We argue that it is important to bear these dimensions in mind to develop a research agenda that can emphasize the local production of queer performativities/subjectivities and timespaces, their historical shaping without ignoring the mobilities and flows which characterize the time/space compression of the late modern world. Papers in this panel will explore aspects of these issues as exemplified in a range of settings: Singapore, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Philippines, Japan. Broadly informed by linguistic ethnography, multimodality and discourse analysis, data will include oral face-to-face interaction, performance, film and literary sources as well as on-line data of various sorts.