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China and Inner Asia
In Session: Chinese Feminisms as Transnational Feminisms
3: Sinophone Queer Feminism: The Transnational Activist Practice of Chinese Lala Alliance
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
12:00pm – 1:30pm EDT
Emory University, United States
In recent decades, the intersectional field of area studies and gender/sexuality studies has been emerging. Feminist scholars have challenged the western-centered understanding of the social production and regulation of gender and sexuality. Scholars in the field of Chinese studies often suggest an alternative Chinese way of the social production and regulation of gender and sexuality, which implies a pre-assumed fact of Chineseness. However, a certain tension of identities arises when looking into the transnational nature of queer feminist activism in the Chinese-speaking areas. Taking the framework of Sinophone Studies (Shi 2007, 2012) which aims to emphasize the multiplicity of the Sinophone world, this paper argues that neither “Chineseness” nor “feminism” can be simply understood within national boundaries. Both concepts are produced in a transnational process and reveal the unstable nature of identities. I will demonstrate it by examining the history and practices of a feminist activist network - the Chinese Lala Alliance (2008-2018). CLA aims to build an equal and just society for sexual minorities who identify with women. It defines “Chinese” in a transnational way as the “broader Chinese-speaking areas including mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the diaspora.” Therefore, the Sinophone approach works well with the case of CLA and can further analyze through it the multiplicity of identities of nationality, gender, and sexuality. Also, the study of CLA as an activist network of queer feminism expands the scholarship of Sinophone studies from cultural studies to social movement studies.