Trans Sans Frontières: Transtopia, the Asia Pacific, and the Politics of Historical Difference

Wednesday, 09/07/2022, at 4:00 p.m. ET –

The concept of transtopia, which posits a continuum model of transness, activates a space of historical inquiry that exceeds both the transphobia of the past and the transgender presumption of the present. That is, it challenges both the assumption that gender nonconforming figures did not exist historically and the idea that the Western category of transgender delivers the best framework for understanding their experience. Historians and other scholars of the past can learn from the interventions of transtopia, because doing queer/trans studies this way unveils some of the most salient problems that have plagued the methods of historical inquiry. These problems include (1) the imposition of contemporary Western categories, such as transgender, on the distanced past or colonized societies, (2) the neglect of racial capitalism and settler colonialism in regions beyond North America and Australia, and (3) the denial of the value borrowed from a theoretical rubric invented in a non-Western context to throw light on marginalized experiences within the West. Informed by recent work in global queer Asia, this talk situates the stakes of transregional historical knowledge at the forefront of contemporary queer and trans thinking. This event was recorded on September 7, 2022.

Howard Chiang, Associate Professor of History at the University of California, Davis, and Founding Chair (2019–2022) of the Society of Sinophone Studies

For more information visit the event website.

The Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies

September 7, 2022

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