Beyond str8tus quo : location in queer studies.
Lim, Yvette Yanwen.
Date of Issue2013
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
In this project, I focus on the critical concepts of location and queerness, and I discuss how bodies can be and are queered by locations. In a chiastic fashion, bodies and what they do can also, in turn, queer locations. Through analysis of literature and films from several countries in Southeast Asia, I argue that the relationship between location and bodies is a chiastic one that overlaps and energizes each other queerly. The questions that guide this paper are related to the relationships between queerness and locatedness. How do certain places facilitate, aid or impede performances of queerness? How is queerness “located” in certain spaces that may not always be recognized in normative cultures as “queer”? How is queer embodied and understood in spaces such as the home and the school, typically governed by the rules of kyriarchy? Kyriarchy as a master set of privileges that encompasses race, age, sex, sexual orientation, physical or mental ability, class, educational access and more is taken to mean the “interlocking and multiplicative systems of domination and submission” (Kwok 193). Kyriarchy thus includes practices of heteronormative conventions that reinforce particular sexualized identities. This paper analyzes how queer functions chiastically at the intersection of sexual orientation and space in Southeast Asia to challenge kyriarchy’s subset of heteronormative conventions. Given that this project wants to move away from identitarian discourse, it is not theoretically concerned about viewing queer as an identity category per se. Hence, when talking about how locations queer texts and bodies, I argue that the kinds of time and space bodies occupy matter, and that certain elements of a location can inspire transgression of heteronormative practices. Queerness is in this project regarded as something not always inherent in a text, but can be produced in and through relations of bodies and locations, possibly resulting in “queer moments” where the narrative sees “a disruption which destabilizes heteronormativity” (Sullivan 191), forcing one to be in a “strange” position where familiar heteronormative logic gets ruptured. Through analyses of film and literature, I demonstrate how queer can emerge through how bodies are located, and chiastically, locations can subvert heteronormative representations by means of the interaction between bodies and space, and produce queer moments.