Discussion questions meaning of queer across borders

Kavish Harjai, Staff Writer

via csgsnyu.org

The NYU Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality and the Department of East Asian Studies co-hosted an event titled Queer Japan as part of the Globally Queer? series on Oct. 23. Social and cultural analysis professor Lisa Duggan, who started this series in the fall 2012 semester, said the purpose is to show that queerness has a different meaning depending on where one lives.

“I think the important thing is the question mark,” Duggan said. She said the question mark denotes the question of what queerness could mean in other countries.

Robert Campbell, associate director of the NYU Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, said the first event in the series was Queer Asia: Performing Global Diaspora. Since then, the series has also featured Cuba and Africa, and Queer Canada will be held next spring.

“[Globally Queer?] was chosen as a series due to a need to address and question queer, gender and sexuality studies on a global, transnational level,” Campbell said.

Each event hosts different panelists, who give their own respective presentations, followed by a group question-and-answer session.

The Queer Japan panel was composed of Gallatin professor Nina Cornytez, East Asian studies professor Yukiko Hanawa and Boston University professor J. Keith Vincent, who teaches modern languages and comparative literature.

Cornytez started the presentations and outlined the definition of queer.

“Judith Halberstam once said, ‘Queer refers to non-normative logic and organization of community, sexual identity, embodiment and activity in space and time,’” Cornytez said.

Cornytez focused on Japanese film and showed clips of “Summer Vacation, 1999,” which provided an example of queerness in Japanese media.

Vincent spoke about Japanese literature and queer theorists, and he delved into the queerness contained in popular Japanese culture, such as anime and manga.

Hanawa spoke about Japanese queer research and looked at queerness through a historical and feminist lens, and criticized the Western representation of Japan in media.

Gallatin junior Ferdinand Tomassini said his interest in East Asian literature brought him to the panel discussion.

“If I can take one point from all three presentations, it would be the idea of shifting gender norms, shifting hetero-norms,” Tomassini said.

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Oct. 24 print edition. Kavish Harjai is a staff writer. Email him at [email protected].