This book analyses queer cultural production in contemporary China to map the broad social transformations in gender, sexuality and desire. It examines queer literature and visual cultures in China’s post-Mao and postsocialist era to show how these diverse cultural forms and practices not only function as context-specific and culturally sensitive forms of social activism but also produce distinct types of gender and sexual subjectivities unique to China’s postsocialist conditions.
From poetry to papercutting art, from ‘comrade/gay literature’ to girls’ love fan fiction, from lesbian films to activist documentaries, and from a drag show in Shanghai to a public performance of a same-sex wedding in Beijing, the book reveals a queer China in all its ideological complexity and creative energy. Empirically rich and methodologically eclectic, Queer China skilfully weaves together historical and archival research, textual and discourse analysis, along with interviews and ethnography.
Breaking new ground and bringing a non-Western perspective to the fore, this transdisciplinary work contributes to multiple academic fields including literary and cultural studies, media and communication studies, film and screen studies, contemporary art, theatre and performance studies, gender and sexuality studies, China/Asia and Global South studies, cultural history and cultural geography, political theory and the study of social movements.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Queer China, Postsocialist Metamorphosis
Part I. Queer Emergence
1. Imagining Modernity: The (Re-)Emergence of Homosexuality
2. Women Fifty Minutes: In Search of Queer Women’s Spaces
Part II. Queer Becoming
3. Beijing Story: Becoming Gay in Postsocialist China
4. Pink Affairs: Narrating Desire in A Girls Love Fan Fiction
Part III. Queer Urban Space
5. ‘New Beijing, New Marriage’: Performing Same-Sex Wedding in Central Beijing
6. The Forgotten Critical Realism: Reification of Desire in Mu Cao’s Poetry
Part IV. Queer Migration
7. ‘Shanghai is Burning’: Becoming Trans in a Global City
8. Life of a Butterfly: Subjectivation and Autonomy in Xiyadie’s Papercutting Art
Hongwei Bao is an associate professor of media and cultural studies at the University of Nottingham, UK. He is the author of Queer Comrades: Gay Identity and Tongzhi Activism in Postsocialist China.
'Offering in-depth analyses of a wide range of queer cultural texts produced in the People’s Republic of China from the postsocialist era to the present, Queer China paints an excellent picture of the vibrant and fast-developing LGBTQ+ cultures that continue to shape and transform the lives of sexual minorities in China... Queer China is an important contribution to the study of Chinese queer cultures. It makes a strong case that queer cultural production in China works as a form of queer activism which is culturally sensitive and highly attuned to the contexts surrounding it... Bao weaves together multiple subject areas across academic disciplines in a language that is personal, reader-friendly and jargon-free. The book will appeal to students, scholars and anyone interested in Chinese queer studies.' - Pecic, Z. L. (2020)
'Bao offers his readers a rich experience of Chinese queer individuals’ life stories and cultural practices. There are many interesting findings and observations that refresh our understanding of how queer individuals live and perceive their identities and social positions. In particular, his emphasis on the different queer subjectivation and desubjectivation under both the postsocialist conditions and the expanding influence of neoliberal capitalism in China signals a welcome move away from the current identity politics centred discussion on Chinese queer activism. ... [Bao’s] view that queer culture in urban China is an example of the queer Global South in contrast to the queer Global North situates the discussion of this book in a broader scope and provides new perspectives on the political ambivalence of Chinese queer culture.' - Ting Guo, Critical Arts
‘A wonderful and timely contribution to the studies of art, film, media as well as to the broader academic fields such as China and Asia studies’; ‘an important contribution to the study of Chinese queer cultures’; ‘Offering in-depth analyses of a wide range of queer cultural texts produced in the People’s Republic of China from the postsocialist era to the present, Queer China paints an excellent picture of the vibrant and fast-developing LGBTQ+ cultures that continue to shape and transform the lives of sexual minorities in China.’ - Feminist Encounters
‘Shaping an “Asian queer studies” framework outside of Western-centric rubrics that also takes into account a post-socialist China and globalisation effects is an epistemology-in-progress, and Hongwei Bao’s Queer China carves out new ground through a combined theoretical and empirical case study method.’ - Cha: An Asian Literary Journal