Queering State Power in Asian Diasporic World-Making
a symposium with Arnika Fuhrmann, Feng-Mei Heberer, Anja Sunhyun Michaelsen, Hoang Tan Nguyen, & Jeannine Tang
March 8, 2024, Friday,
4 to 7:30 pm
Cinema Studies, 721 Broadway, 6th floor
Queering State Power in Asian Diasporic World-Making explores instances and histories of Asian diaspora that de-center the state queerly. Asian diasporic pasts and presents are inextricably linked to the infrastructural power of the state, evoking complex relations of Asian migrancy and sociality with the law, militarized border regimes, and the ongoing violence of state-led wars, colonial and imperial domination. The symposium asks how Asian diasporic art and scholarship betray and reimagine the state’s seemingly ubiquitous reach. We highlight minoritarian engagements of hospitality and rescue, migrancy and settlement, history and memory that exceed institutional binds and open up forms of intimacy, sociality, and knowing that relate (to) the state queerly.
The symposium features select talks, conversations, and screenings bringing together Asian diasporic art and scholarship across the continents of Europe, Asia, and North America. Combining queer archival methods and autotheoretical reflection, Anja Sunhyun Michaelsen (Humboldt University Berlin) walks us through her research on South Korean adoption to Germany via the German Federal Central Archives and archives of adoption agencies. Michaelsen traces the institutional creation of biographical gaps and systemic blank spaces in producing stateless paper orphans ready to be assimilated into Western bureaucracy as receivers of humanitarian aid and a “better future.” Arnika Fuhrmann (Cornell University) examines how contemporary queer Thai cinema addresses the Rohingya refugee crisis through the registers of the poetic. She asks how this cinema engages the precarious position of a population placed at a still further remove from personhood than the notional Thai citizens of the country’s Muslim-majority provinces through depictions of kinship and care but also ambiguity and ambivalence. The symposium concludes with a screening and discussion of select films by seminal queer Asian American experimental filmmaker and scholar Hoang Tan Nguyen (University of California, San Diego). We will feature his recently completed film work as well as his classic, Pirated! (2000), in which Nguyen reimagines the story of his family’s 1978 escape from Vietnam as an erotic encounter with gay masculinities. The screening is followed by a conversation with Nguyen, discussant Jeannine Tang (NYU), and symposium organizer Feng-Mei Heberer (NYU) about Nguyen’s artistic practice.
Schedule Friday, March 8, 2024:
- 4pm-5.30pm: talks by Anja Sunhyun Michaelsen and Arnika Fuhrmann (Room 652)
- 5.30pm-6pm: coffee break
- 6pm-7.30pm: screening and discussion with Hoang Tan Nguyen, Jeannine Tang, Feng-Mei Heberer (Michelson Theater)
About the participants
Arnika Fuhrmann is an interdisciplinary scholar of Thailand working at the intersections of the country’s aesthetic and political modernities. She is the author of Ghostly Desires: Queer Sexuality and Vernacular Buddhism in Contemporary Thai Cinema and Teardrops of Time: Buddhist Aesthetics in the Poetry of Angkarn Kallayanapong. She is currently a professor of Asian Studies and Comparative Literature at Cornell University.
Feng-Mei Heberer teaches in the Martin Scorsese Institute of Cinema Studies at New York University, and is the author of Asians on Demand: Mediating Race in Video Art and Activism (University of Minnesota Press, 2023).
Anja Sunhyun Michaelsen is a postdoctoral scholar in the ERC Consolidator Grant Project “Tales of the Diasporic Ordinary. Aesthetics, Affects, Archives” at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, in which she works on the project An Archive of Empty Spaces. Her current research focuses on representations of (post-)colonial trauma, historical archives and minority historiography, as well as queer and ordinary reparative practices. Latest publications include: Refuge and Reparative Practice. Studium Generale Reader (Amsterdam: Gerrit Rietveld Academie, 2023), assembled with Amelia Groom; and “Girlfriends 1973,” in The Wall Between Us. (Be)Longing, Repair and Its Politics of Affects. Eds. Cecilia Bien, Elena Agudio, Thi Minh Huyen Nguyen (Berlin: Archive Books, 2022).
Nguyễn Tân Hoàng is Associate Professor of Literature and Cultural Studies, University of California, San Diego, and affiliated faculty for the Department of Ethnic Studies and Critical Gender Studies Program at UCSD. His research interests include Asian American visual culture, Southeast Asian cinema, queer cinema, experimental film, race and pornography, film programming, and video production. His experimental videos have been screened at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Getty Center in Los Angeles, and the Pompidou Center in Paris.
Jeannine Tang is Assistant Professor in the Department of Performance Studies at NYU Tisch. She is working on the book Living Legends, Contemporary Art and Transgender History, which received a Warhol Writers Grant. Her writing on contemporary art, exhibition and curatorial history, queer and trans cultures has appeared in venues such as Art Journal, Artforum, GLQ, Theory Culture & Society, journal of visual culture, and books such as Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility (New Museum & MIT Press, 2017)
Co-sponsored by the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU, the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at NYU, the NYU Center for Multicultural Education and Programs (CMEP), the Kanbar Institute of Film and Television Graduate Film, and the Center for Research & Study at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
FRIDAY, MAR. 8, 2024 4:00 PM — 7:30 PM
- 4:00pm - to 5:30pm
- talks by Anja Sunhyun Michaelsen and Arnika Fuhrmann (Room 652)
- 5:30pm - 6:00pm
- coffee break
- 6:00pm - 7:30pm
- screening and discussion with Hoang Tan Nguyen, Jeannine Tang, Feng-Mei Heberer (Michelson Theater)