Precarity, Territory, and Identity Politics Panel



Nation, Ethnicity, Intimacy, and Sexuality

Nation, ethnicité, intimité et sexualité


Sunday, October 24, 2021


13:45 – 15:30

VenueVenue 3Venue 3


Chair/Président: John Paul Catungal, University of British Columbia

Discussant/Intervenant: John Paul Catungal, University of British Columbia

Event poster


Transpacific Brown

Christopher B. Patterson, The Social Justice Institute, University of British Columbia

In North America, “brown” often signifies racial groups who hail from the Global South, but who don’t fall under signs of blackness or Arabs: Latino/a/xs, Filipino/as, and South Asians (Sharma). At the same time, races seen as “yellow” or “white” were once conceived of as brown (Japanese, Koreans, Italians) and brownness has been a significant marker within communities-of-color (“brown” African Americans). Once we broach the confines of America and into Asia, entirely different racial formations emerge, wherein brownness plays a role: the “brownness” of mest+D20izo/as in the Philippines, the colour “brown” to signify Malays or Southeast Asians more generally, and American military operations that brought together “brown brothers.” How has brownness operated within the transpacific as a marker of particular bodies, and as metaphor? This presentation conceives of a transpacific brownness in relation to other forms of brown to produce a storied manifest for brown theory. By activating “the transpacific” as both the imperial relations among Asia, Oceania, and America, and as an epistemological paradigm that navigates the disciplinary logics produced through these encounters, I treat brownness in the transpacific to untangle a story of how some people in Asia went from resembling a wild and uncontainable threat to a form of brownness that became necessary for the reproduction of the global north. In other words, the story brownness tells is about how some people in Asia and Oceania were shaped as “domesticatable."

Queer Diasporic Filipino-Catholicism’s Transnational Movements through Joella Cabalu’s “It Runs in the Family”

Cecilia Federizon, University of Toronto

This paper traces the transnational movements of Filipino Catholicism in the Filipino diasporic community in Canada, focusing on the ongoing negotiations and resistance of Filipinos’ genders and sexualities. Religion is a marker of “Filipinoness” for diasporic subjects and enables queer diasporic communities to make sense of their situation (Manalansan 2003). Through an examination of Filipino-Canadian diasporic artist Joella Cabalu’s 2015 documentary, “It Runs in the Family,” I hope to trace Catholicism’s movements with the Filipino diaspora and the ways in which its meanings are constantly changing with movement. I hope to examine religion, not merely as a nationalist ideology, but as an object in which diasporic Filipinos relate with to understand and negotiate notions of love, “family,” and “home.” “It Runs in the Family” follows Joella’s gay younger brother Jay, as he travels from Vancouver to the United States and the Philippines to meet with other queer family members and to understand a supposed family curse that “made” them queer. The documentary enables a queer reading of religion that centres the contradictory affectual connections of queer Filipinx experiences with the Catholic Church’s (homophobic) teachings. Following Eng’s (2010) queer diasporic approach, I explore the valences of diasporic Filipino Catholic intimations “through the lens of queerness, affiliation, and social contingency” in addressing the “nostalgic demands of diaspora” (p. 13). Catholicism, I argue, is not a stable institution but a malleable religion that creates a connection back to “home”’ and “family.”

Embracing the Nation: Strategic Deployment of Sexuality, Nation, and Citizenship in Singapore

Minwoo Jung, Sociology, University of Southern California

How do sexual minorities navigate and negotiate with nationalism? While some scholars consider nationalism as a primarily exclusionary force against sexual minorities, how might we understand sexual minorities’ engagement with nationalism? I address these questions by exploring the strategic deployment of sexual and national identities of LGBT movements through the case study of Singapore’s annual LGBT-inclusive event, Pink Dot. In response to the authoritarian and heteronormative state’s construction of sexual minorities as non-national Others, Pink Dot mobilizes both sexual and national identities in an effort to forge a space of inclusion while ensuring its survival. By portraying itself as a uniquely Singaporean event and espousing national identity and belonging through symbolic and performative practices, Pink Dot leverages national identity to minimize differences from and foreground similarities to the majority. In this way, sexual minorities in Singapore endeavor to embed themselves within the narratives of the nation and claim their legitimate belonging while simultaneously projecting a nation more inclusive of sexual difference. The aspirational inclusion of sexual minorities in the national imagery, however, inevitably elicits the state’s backlash that narrowly defines the physical and symbolic boundaries of the political project. This analysis advances our understanding of the interactions between the state and social movements in shaping the relationship among the nation, sexuality, and citizenship.

Reimagining the Civic: Legal Performativity, Sexuality, and LGBTIQ in Indonesia

Arief Rianto Kurniawan, Centre for Human Rights Research and Development, Ministry of Law and Human Rights, Jakarta, Indonesia; Ahmad Fathony, Centre for Human Rights Research and Development, Ministry of Law and Human Rights, Jakarta, Indonesia

This presentation seeks to elucidate the interrelationship between power, public intimacy, and the vernacularization of human rights. By focusing on the LGBTIQ discourse in several court decisions on criminal, civil, administrative, and judicial review cases, we suggest that the construction of human rights has been largely dependent on the political populist agenda. Through the lens of legal performativity on the court of law’s reasonings, we could basically see an ideological myriad in understanding gender, sexuality, and identity of the sexual minority groups. These reiterative practices have been exerting the deviancy or threat of LGBTIQ beyond sexual behaviour—as commonly understood, while on the other occasions, they rather perform LGBTIQ as part of identity that should be legally protected from discriminatory speech. Gender and sexuality of LGBTIQ group are thus better understood as an assemblage of various materialities that exist in modern Indonesian society.

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