Situating Sexualities

Queer Representation in Taiwanese Fiction, Film and Public Culture


Fran Martin

ISBN : 978-962-209-619-6

Cultural Studies, Gender Studies

May 2003

372 pages, 6″ x 9″

  • HK$295.00

This is the first book in English to analyse the stunning rise to prominence of cultures of dissident sexuality in Taiwan during the 1990s. Positioned at the crossroads of queer theory and postcolonial cultural studies, this book intervenes in current debates on sexuality and globalization to argue that the current emergence of public, dissident sexualities in non-Western locations like Taiwan cannot be reduced to the effects of homogenizing ‘Westernization’. Instead, Situating Sexualities approaches the queer sexualities represented in recent Taiwanese fiction, film and public culture as dynamic formations that combine local knowledge with globalizing discourses on gay and lesbian identity to produce sexualities that are multiple, shifting and inherently hybrid. Equally, the book pushes out the limits of ‘queer’ to challenge the Eurocentrism of much queer theory to date. Consistently critical of essentializing accounts of ‘Chinese’ culture, the book nevertheless highlights some of the important ways in which Taiwanese formations of dissident sexuality differ from the familiar Euro-American formations.

Fran Martin is Lecturer in Cinema Studies at La Trobe University, Australia. She has published extensively on queer politics and culture in Taiwan.

Situating Sexualities is an important book for anyone who wants a sophisticated and politically savvy analysis of gay and lesbian cultural productions in the Chinese-speaking world.” —John Nguyet Erni, Department of English and Communication, City University of Hong Kong

Situating Sexualities is a breakthrough in queer, cultural, feminist, Taiwan, ‘Chinese’, and Critical Asian Studies. It inaugurates readings of queer Taiwan cultural and social texts that reconfigure as they reinvent ‘queer’ and ‘Taiwan’ vis-a-vis each other, as well as intimately against queer theorizing of an incidentally universalist bent. This book is a must read, resonatingly insightful in its theory of xianshen and how the latter shifts the ground from beneath the ‘coming out’ impasse. Fran Martin’s analysis moves towards and with a queer representational abject that tenders psychic reparation, sociality and critique all at once, while accounting for how such textual strategies bypass the paranoid ressentiment of identity politics.” —Naifei Ding, Department of English, National Central University, Taiwan, author of Obscene Things: Sexual Politics in Jin Ping Mei

Situating Sexualities efficiently lays out the major debates on un-straight or non-normative eroticism preoccupying intellectuals and artists particularly in Taiwan’s queer communities. Her analytic strategies also qualify Martin to reconsider canonical works circulating in North American circles where ‘Asia’ is not yet a consideration. Thinking through the political culture and queer strategies that theorists in Taiwan tailored to everyday life during the nineties Martin is able to show two things: a distinctive tongxinglian praxis and the participation of Taiwan tongxinglian theory in ‘cosmopolitan’ or globalized sexualities. This focus allows her to provide numerous examples of how US queer theory must be queered, and metropolitan canonical theory reconsidered. Fran Martin has written a generous, knowledgeable, intelligent and sparkling book.” —Tani Barlow, University of Washington