Special Issue of Screen Bodies (5.2, December 2020): Queer Sinofuturisms
CALL FOR PAPERS
Guest Editors: Ari Heinrich, University of California, San Diego; Howard Chiang, University of California, Davis; and Ta-wei Chi, National Chengchi University
This special issue on “Queer Sinofuturisms” aims to explore how artists, writers, and videographers working in Sinophone contexts use science to envision non-normative gender and erotic expressions in relation to the corporeal future of humanity. By investigating visions of the future that incorporate queerness and creative applications of biotechnology, “Queer Sinofuturisms” on one hand aims to counter pervasive techno-orientalist discourses that frame “Asian” technological futures as strictly dystopian (and straight by default). On the other, it responds to a heteronormative presumption in the recent vogue for Chinese science fiction in translation: While many of these outstanding works challenge readers to reassess real world problems like neoliberal economic inequalities and environmental devastation, certain heteronormative values tend to remain unquestioned both in content and in reception, a structural limit on our capacity to envision genuinely innovative social formations for the “future.” What happens, this issue of Screen Bodies asks, if we simultaneously destabilize techno-orientalist narratives of the future while queering assumptions about the heteronormativity so often inscribed upon that future in mainstream iterations and embodiments?
One approach to this question might be to engage certain aspects of North American queer theory, which over the last 15 years has challenged precisely the problem of heteronormativity in what it calls “reproductive futures.” According to one interpretation of the logic of reproductive futurism, the figure of the child in fiction always represents the future, and therefore any threat to that child’s corporeal integrity—including the symbolic values associated with the failure to fulfill the reproductive imperatives of heterosexuality—becomes implicitly anathema to this future. Another view by contrast takes queerness itself as the utopia, a creative home for a positive political imaginary of the future. Here, utopian queerness both enables a way of criticizing the limits of the (heteronormative) present and anchors the more recent queer theoretical unsettling of temporality, chronology, and embodiment. What might this mean in Sinophone contexts? Consider an example from Taiwan, where recent campaigns around various voting referenda exploit the figure of the child as a threatened creature whose “future”—if the associated narratives are to be believed—is jeopardized by the simultaneous possibilities of being denied LGBT-friendly education and the right to legalized gay marriage, and being exposed to the purported danger of contaminated food from Fukushima, Japan (even while being encouraged to embrace nuclear power). In the imagination of humanity’s future, this 21st-century Taiwanese techno-progeny thus exemplifies a unique reciprocity between and among complex expressions of techno-orientalism and heteronormativity as they are inscribed on the body. In critiquing this figure, can we think of alternatives? As another example, consider the videography of Lawrence Lek, who has staged an aesthetic idea of “Sinofuturism” that turns techno-orientalist tropes in on themselves, featuring the gradual subjugation of humanity and human bodies to affectless dystopian machines. How does this futuristic vision contrast with work by the artist Lu Yang, whose animation “Uterus Man” casts a superhero whose superpower derives from his “uniquely female reproductive system,” a system used to alter the hereditary functions, genders, and sexes of his enemies?
This special issue of Screen Bodies on “Queer Sinofuturisms” seeks to enlist a range of modalities to address urgent questions about whose future humanity has been imagined or is imaginable, and how this imagination unfolds. We seek contributions ranging from critiquing or improving upon—or even abandoning entirely—the “reproductive future” narratives of embodied selves associated with North American queer theory, to any topic relating to “screens” broadly defined, including silk screens, the silver screen, cell phone screens, body-scans, reproductive technologies, candidate “screening,” screening out, questions of ability, race, gender, s/creed; and we seek contributions from any discipline or area, whether relating to (queer) [ethno]Futurisms or to alternative utopias or to historical imaginings of “the future” in various contexts, as well as any time period. Our intention is to bring emerging understandings of Sinofuturism and corporeality into conversation with queer notions of non-reproductive and genuinely heterogenous ways of envisioning—and creating—more equitable worlds.
Submissions should be 4000-6000 words. We will consider alternative non-fiction formats as well as academic essays; please contact the editors with any questions.
Please submit materials by October 25, 2019.
Screen Bodies is a peer-reviewed journal focusing on the intersection of Screen Studies and Body Studies across disciplines, institutions, and media. It is a forum promoting research on various aspects of embodiment on and in front of screens through articles, reviews, and interviews. The journal considers moving and still images, whether from the entertainment industry, information technologies, or news and media outlets, including cinema, television, the internet, and gallery spaces. It investigates the private experiences of portable and personal devices and the institutional ones of medical and surveillance imaging. Screen Bodies addresses the portrayal, function, and reception of bodies on and in front of screens from the perspectives of gender and sexuality, feminism and masculinity, trans studies, queer theory, critical race theory, cyborg studies, and dis/ability studies.