This blog post was originally posted on Study at SOAS Blogs, 20 June 2018
‘Queer’ Asia is a network and platform for collaboration and research on LGBTQI+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex) issues in Asia and among Asians in the diaspora. The aim of our annual conference and film festival is to bring together activists, artists, academics, and film-makers from various parts of Asia on a common platform and to interrogate the latest developments and research on LGBTQI+ rights, identities, and culture in the region.
Bodies X Borders
The third ‘Queer’ Asia conference is taking place from 26-28 June, 2018 at SOAS University of London and UCL. Our second annual film festival is taking place on 24 and 29 June at the British Museum and 27 and 28 June at SOAS. All the events are free to attend and tickets can be attained via our website.
The theme of the conference and film festival this year is ‘Bodies X Borders’, investigating issues around migration, diaspora, displacement, identity, embodiment, and borders, whether personal, professional, cultural, or political, externally or internally imposed. The conference has seven academic panelsexploring these themes, looking at bodies and borders in relation to multiple themes, including identity, migration, literature, gender performance, dating apps, transnational organising, class, television shows, urban and rural settings, in seeking asylum, in terms of citizenship, and within nationalist struggles. These panels feature academics and early career researchers from some of the top international universities.
The conference features a range of panel discussions and talks by activists, policy experts, academics and donors, some of which are highlighted below:
- Keynote Opening Panel (26 June) featuring Professor Geeta Patel (University of Virginia); Professor Suen Yiu-Tung (Chinese University of Hong Kong), Dr Vanja Hamzic (SOAS), and chaired by Dr Nour Abu-Assab, CTDC;
- A panel on challenges faced by refugees in accessing asylum including two refugees from Malaysia and Bangladesh;
- A roundtable on the situation of LGBTI rights in Central Asia including activists from Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan;
- A panel on the use of data for policy advocacy on LGBTQI+ rights in Asia Pacific in partnership with UNDP featuring a range of researchers, activists, and human rights consultants;
- A panel on philanthropy and grant making for LGBTQI+ rights activism in Asia which includes five professionals working in this field;
- A panel on the role of businesses in advancing LGBTI rights in Asia;
- Featured talks by Haneen Maikey, Executive Director, Alqaws – Palestine’s leading LGBT rights NGO about politics of queer organising in Palestine; Dr Lynette Chua from National University of Singapore on LGBT movement in Myanmar; Dr Matthew Waites (University of Glasgow) on queer politics of the London CHOGM; and Dr. Wen Liu from University of Albany on issues faced by queer Asian Americans.
The Bodies X Borders art exhibition celebrates Asian artists (from Japan, Philippines, India, South Korea, and Syria) who are exploring issues related to sexuality and gender. These themes are not normally addressed in contemporary Asia, with many artists struggling with state censorship, the sensitivity of professional art spaces, and a general lack of public interest.
Image: Direction, by Nayoung Jeong
Alongside art installations and performance, we will host a poster exhibition and two plays this year: a stage reading of ‘Contempt’, dramatising arguments made during court proceedings of the judgment that recriminalized homosexuality in India (by Danish Sheikh) and Humera, chronicling the lives of three Pakistani teenagers through the lens of religion and sexuality (by Fatima Maan).
‘Queer’ Asia Film Festival 2018 features 33 films from Asia, including Palestine, Lebanon, Pakistan, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, and Myanmar. Some of the films being screened are:
- Slay (Philippines) – a film about Floyd Scott Tiogangco, a homosexual trans-androgynous gender-queer Filipino performance artist;
- Front Cover (Hong Kong) – exploring diaspora identity between China and the US;
- Carlos Jauregui: The Unforgettable Fag (Argentina) – about Argentina’s most prominent gay rights activist;
- Haki Fadi (Empty Talks) (Palestine) – exploring identity and identification in the Middle East and North African region;
- Crossing Bridges (Indonesia) – which confronts insecurity, homophobia, and immigrant identity, plus Q&A with director;
- Hong Kong Transgender Stories (Hong Kong) – self-told stories of transmen and transwomen, highlighting the issues they face at family, work and in society;
- Ka Bodyscapes (India) – a film banned by the censor board in India, which traces lives of three young queer people in a conservative Indian city;
- A panel discussion on 29 June at the British Museum on Censorship and queer production featuring Jayan Cherian, film maker from India; Kit Hung, film maker and lecturer, Hong Kong Baptist University; Ghiwa Sayegh, editor-in-chief of Kohl: a journal for body and gender research in MENA; and Rahul Rao, Lecturer at SOAS.