Monday, 5 March 2012

Visuality and Politics: Queer Media in China

On Monday 26 March 2012, we will be hosting a research workshop on Visuality and Politics: Queer Media in China. Organizied by Dr Hongwei Bao, the workshop will explore the following issues:

For Jacques Rancière (2004), the visual is intrinsically political; art and politics have in common the potential to delimit the visible and the invisible, the thinkable and the unthinkable, as well as the possible and the impossible. This is certainly true of queer art, film and activism in contemporary China. Since China began its neoliberal reforms in the early 1980s, one of the most interesting phenomena that indicates drastic social changes has been the (re-)emergence of gay identity. Same-sex desire, which used to be rendered invisible and unthinkable during China’s socialist era, began to surface in the postsocialist public discourse. With the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1997 and depathologisation of homosexuality in 2001, an increasing number of lesbians and gays have ‘come out’ to the public and have begun to demand gender and sexual equality. Many of them have chosen to use various forms of media, including painting, installation, digital video film and the Internet, to engage in political activism.

The use of media in China’s queer community poses a number of interrelated questions to scholars in media studies and queer studies: what role do the media play in queer activism in the transnational context? How do gays and lesbians ‘queer’ the use of media, if at all? How does the ‘queer media’, an exploratory term that requires definition and discussion, as a form of alternative media or ‘citizen media’, may contribute to political and social change? How do ‘queer media’ render contested socialist histories, the neoliberal present and imagined futures both visible and invisible, both thinkable and unthinkable, and both possible and impossible? How does the transnationalisation of queer theory and politics may be fraught with tensions, slippages, as well as complicated postcolonial and anti-neoliberal struggles? What can queer media practices in China inform the Western academia of issues and debates concerning alternative media, queer theory, aesthetics and politics, theory and praxis, decolonising academic knowledge production and revitalising political activism?

This workshop will bring queer scholars, filmmakers, magazine editors and artists from China and the UK into critical dialogue with each other. It will also showcase a selection of queer documentary films and queer art works made by China’s leading queer filmmakers and artists including Cui Zi’en, Wei Jiangang, Shitou and Mingming.

The event takes play  in Newton Lecture Theatre 4 at the city site of Nottingham Trent University. Participation in this workshop is free. For enquires and to book your place please contact
Dr Hongwei Bao (email:


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