CFP: Southeast Asia and Queer of Color Critique: Intersections and Interventions (MLA 2024)

CFP: Southeast Asia and Queer of Color Critique: Intersections and Interventions (MLA 2024)

We invite papers for a guaranteed session organized by the Southeast Asia and Southeast Asia Diasporic Forum for the January 2024 Modern Language Association’s conference in Philadelphia. Our session builds on existing scholarship on queer Asian and Southeast Asian identities and narratives, such as the special journal issues of Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific (2015, ed. Brian Curtin) and Culture, Theory, and Society (2017, eds. Howard Chiang and Alvin K. Wong); Arnika Fuhrmann’s Ghostly Desires: Queer Sexuality and Vernacular Buddhism in Contemporary Thai Cinema (2016); and the essay collection Queer Southeast Asia (2023, eds. Shawna Tang and Hendri Yulius Wijaya).

Queer of color critique’s emphasis on “subjectless critique” that is “organized around difference” (Ferguson), i.e. its skepticism towards narratives of authenticity rooted only in one particular identity category, is especially amenable to a discussion of gender and sexuality in Southeast Asia. This is a region that has historically been and still is the intersection of multiple linguistic, demographic, economic, and cultural flows from many different parts of the world. It is also a terrain upon which exist intersecting regimes of national, (post- and neo-)colonial, and imperial power that regulate or manage gender and sexuality on local and regional socio-political registers. Our session investigates a productive overlap between a queer of color critique of liberalism’s violences and the contradictions of nation-state formation with an inter-Asia understanding of Southeast Asia as a heterogeneous region that rejects the “geo-colonial, Orientalising impulse of area studies” (Tang and Wijaya).

As an intellectual area and a critical framework, queer of color critique has a distinct origin in the USA and work in the field often centers North American subjects and cultures. Yet as Roderick A. Ferguson and other scholars such as Jasbir Puar, Martin Manalansan, and Gayatri Gopinath have shown, there is untapped potential for turning queer of color critique towards investigating liberalism’s complicities with practices of exclusion and domination in non-Western, non-White settings, particularly those not physically proximate to North America. Our session intends to open up ways of connecting queer of color critique with Southeast Asian queer social, cultural, and political formations and subjectivities that go beyond marking the visibility of these formations and subjectivities. We are also interested in how local, Southeast Asian discourses and cultural productions can intervene in or challenge queer of color critique and constitute their own critical frameworks and methodologies.

We welcome papers on queer of color critique and Southeast Asia that address any of the following (non-exhaustive) areas:

– decoloniality / postcoloniality

– state power and biopower

– indigeneity

– class and labor

– migration and diaspora

– aesthetics and politics

Please send 250-word abstracts and CV, as well as any questions, to Jasmine An ( and Weihsin Gui ( by March 10, 2023. Please note that speakers whose papers are accepted for this session will need to become members of the Modern Language Association by April 7, 2023 in order to participate in the conference itself.