THE FEELING OF KINSHIP:
QUEER LIBERALISM AND THE RACIALIZATION OF INTIMACY
A lecture by David L. Eng
This talk has been CANCELED — we will reschedule for the fall 2011 semester — we apologize for the inconvenience.
David L. Eng, University of Pennsylvania
This talk is drawn from David L. Eng’s recent book The Feeling of Kinship. In that project, Eng investigates the emergence of “queer liberalism,” the empowerment of certain gays and lesbians in the United States economically through an increasingly visible and mass-mediated queer consumer lifestyle, and politically through the legal protection of rights to privacy and intimacy. Eng argues that in our “colorblind” age the emergence of queer liberalism is a particular incarnation of liberal freedom and progress, one constituted by both the racialization of intimacy and the forgetting of race. Through a startling reading of Lawrence v. Texas, the landmark legal decision overturning Texas’s antisodomy statute, Eng reveals how the ghosts of miscegenation haunt both Lawrence and the advent of queer liberalism.
Eng develops the concept of “queer diasporas” as a critical response to queer liberalism. A methodology drawing attention to new forms of family and kinship, accounts of subjects and subjectivities, and relations of affect and desire, the concept differs from the traditional notions of diaspora, theories of the nation-state, and principles of neoliberal capitalism upon which queer liberalism thrives. Eng analyzes films, documentaries, and literature by Asian and Asian American artists including Wong Kar-wai, Monique Truong, Deann Borshay Liem, and Rea Tajiri, as well as a psychoanalytic case history of a transnational adoptee from Korea. In so doing, he demonstrates how queer Asian migrant labor, transnational adoption from Asia, and the political and psychic legacies of Japanese internment underwrite narratives of racial forgetting and queer freedom in the present. A focus on queer diasporas also highlights the need for a poststructuralist account of family and kinship, one offering psychic alternatives to Oedipal paradigms.
David L. Eng is Professor in the Department of English, the Program in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory, and the Program in Asian American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of Racial Castration: Managing Masculinity in Asian America and co-editor of Loss: The Politics of Mourning, Q&A: Queer in Asian America, and a special issue of Social Text, “What’s Queer About Queer Studies Now?”
Organized by CSGS; co-sponsored by the NYU Asian/Pacific/American Institute and the Department of Performance Studies.
This event is free and open to the public. Venue is wheelchair accessible but please call in advance to gain access. If you need sign language interpretation services or other accommodations, please let us know as soon as possible at 212-992-9540.