Changing Subjects: Male Sexualities and Masculinities in Asia

Our colleagues in the Contemporary China Centre at Westminster present a workshop on:

Changing Subjects: Male Sexualities and Masculinities in Asia
Friday 5 November 2010
Westminster Forum, University of Westminster, 5th floor, 32-38 Wells Street, London, W1T 3UW

The diverse new male sexual and masculine identities of Asia’s burgeoning economies suggest radical re-formations of the male subject in recent years. The figure of the cool, sleek and fashionable ‘metrosexual’ man, for instance, in his various national incarnations, adorns magazine covers and billboards across Asia’s megacities. At the same time, the figure of the gay male has emerged in countries across Asia, diffracted in various forms, through social and activist group efforts, gay dating websites, and commercial and cultural venues and events that celebrate queerness. Metrosexual, straight or gay, these figures inflect the assumptions, processes and practices of Asia’s modernities with a range of gendered characteristics that derive from transnational circulations of meaning, often associated with self-interested desires and consumer practices.

Male sexualities and masculinities in Asia, however, may not be what they appear to be from media images, particularly to the ‘Western’ eye. Ethnographic research shows that men who identify with attributes of transnational, gay, metrosexual and other identities also simultaneously identify with locally and culturally embedded notions of gender that interrupt the neat outlines of discursive renderings. Investigation of men’s subjectivities through what they say and do shows that what their performances mean to them can be very different from what the observer thinks. This workshop, then, seeks not only to contribute to understandings of how notions and practices of sexualities and masculinities mutually interact to produce and regulate the sexual, gendered male subjects/subjectivities emerging in contemporary Asia, but also to think beyond them to consider their relational effects on wider configurations of sexuality, gender and power within and across Asian countries and cultures.

10:00–10:10     Welcome—Dr Derek Hird (University of Westminster)
10:10–11:25     Dr Will Schroeder (University of Manchester)
‘For Fun: Affect and Belonging in Contemporary Gay Beijing’
        Discussant: TBA        
11:25–11:40     Tea and Coffee Break
11:40–12:55     Dr Paul Boyce (Institute of Education, University of London)
‘The Object of Attention: Same-sex sexualities in small town India and the contemporary sexual subject’
        Discussant: Dr Akshay Khanna (University of Sussex)            
12:55–13:55     Lunch Break

13:55–15:10     Dr Jonathan Mackintosh (Birkbeck, University of London)
                ‘Historicising the “Feminisation of Masculinity” in Japan’
        Discussant: TBA
15:10–15:25     Tea and Coffee Break   
15:25–16:40     Dr Derek Hird (University of Westminster)
‘Contesting white-collar norms: Gay metrosexuals and homosocial yingchou in contemporary China’
        Discussant” Professor Henrike Donner (University of Goettingen)
16:40–16:45    Break
16:45–17:30     Summing up and closing discussion—Professor Harriet Evans (University of Westminster)

All welcome. This workshop is free. For enquiries or to reserve a place, please contact

Dr Derek Hird

Contemporary China Centre, Department of Modern and Applied Languages
University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street, London W1B 2UW

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