This semi-microsociological process of individuated/communal identity mirrors Benedict Anderson's theory of the imagined community (used to describe the construction of a nationalist consciousness). Does "human nature" tend towards same seeking same, like attracting like? This supposed "natural tendency" towards homogeneity (pun intended) conflicts with contemporary promotions of multiculturalism – of prioritizing "salad bowl" rhetoric over that of the "melting pot." Is this disconnect the reason why respectability politics discursively engage similarity as a means of gaining sympathy (e.g., "love is love," "we're all humans," "I don't see color," etc.) – no matter how false, absurd or counterproductive (in the long-term) it is?
Chapter 8 ("Identity Politics and Hong Kong's Return to Chinese Sovereignty") of John Flowerdew's Critical Discourse Analysis in Historiography : The Case of Hong Kong's Evolving Political Identity specifically touches on the issue of language choice/use. Discussing the bilingualism of Hong Kongese society and the symbolism embedded within it, Flowerdew observes that Cantonese represents "the mother tongue" and "a language of solidarity," while English showcases the city's "developed," "modernized," and "international/cosmopolitan" status (176). However, as China continues to gradually phase out Cantonese and traditional characters, just as localists increasingly cling to the two as unique components of their identity, we are left with an important question. In a post-retrocession age, how will conflicts over rhetoric and dialect continue to materialize in Hong Kongers' everyday lives, as well as specifically influence the politics (and affiliations) of the tongzhi community?
In her introduction to As Normal As Possible, Yau Ching remarks on a confluence of a myriad social, political, and economic factors – the glocalization of "international LGBT rights," a reclamation/reimagining of Chinese identity post-1997 (or, perhaps more aptly, Hong Kongese identity), a proliferation of religious and governmental institutions (e.g., megachurches and bureaucracy), and neo-liberalism. Her description is reminiscent of Samshasha's negotiation of the "4Cs" (Colonialism, Christianity, Communism and Confucianism). To illustrate this point in the current political moment – one may refer to these HKFP articles: "HSBC’s rainbow lions: Can we have our homophobia back please?" (Vittachi) and "Christian leaders touch on Hong Kong’s political turmoil in annual Christmas messages" (Chu, *and the commenters especially). These issues are so intertwined it is as if they have turned into monoliths.
Perhaps it is both a blessing and a curse that the politicization of sexuality/the invention of sexual civil rights is relatively nascent in East Asia. Spurred by Western occupation and atrocity (the imposition of its sexual mores via sociopolitical regulation), East Asian sexual minorities have been forced to engage a tactful cognizance of their own agenda – given the complexities and crossroads at which they find themselves. "Owing" one's liberatory consciousness to a colonizer culture that conjured or perhaps simply exacerbated existing "sexual persecution" (and in some ways continues to do so) is a paradoxical conundrum. By the same token, the "newness" of this movement means the foundations laid now form a potent political legacy that, unlike the West, will provide a roadmap to (in)effective strategy – meaning future generations of activists will not be left to grope around for new frameworks. Conversely, we ought not necessarily resent Western homonormativity for its objectives; rather, we must be critical of its execution in order to address issues of exclusion and to encourage self-awareness within the community.
newfound tenderness, claiming Cheung as their own. In their understandable haste to include him in a political narrative of mainstream acculturation and queer stardom, Cheung was eulogized as an "icon (or sacred figure, shengxiang) of transgression." But amidst declarations of "pride" and "bravery," the public conveniently forgot how Cheung had subtly and ambiguously crafted the sexuality of his public persona – never "openly" declaring himself as tongzhi and only gradually "coming out" once as bisexual while publicly acknowledging his partner Daffy Tong Hok-Tak. Leung observes the erasure of the important changeabilities and nuances that ought to compose "a more enduring and intimate place in our queer memory" (88). The same is true in queer historiographies; we rush to claim famous figures as "ours" (rather proprietarily) without considering the agency of the historical actor in constructing their unique sexual scripts or even the presentisms and Euro/Americentricisms that color such depictions.
The title of Leslie Cheung's gay flick, 春光乍洩 (literally, Emergence of the Scenery of Spring), is an idiom meaning "the exposure of something intimate or indecent." (Interesting that intimacy and indecency are often equated; perhaps it is simply indecent to be publicly intimate?) Indeed, I would argue that it is these forms of personal sexual meaning-making that transcend celebrity and draw a veil between our presentations and experiences – conjuring a form of queerness that exists perpetually on a knife's edge of privacy/publicity, intimacy/indecency. Consider "sham marriages" that most LGBT Westerners decry as oppressive and unnecessarily assimilatory while they, too, allow their sexualities to be institutionalized. While gays and lesbians allow the mainstream to subsume and erode their complexity, tongzhi adapt mainstream narratives to fit their lives (without necessarily having to give up that which makes them tongzhi). Within the interactionist model, Goffman would likely label this a form of cynical impression management; the self is an act, developed to give the right impression to different audiences. It is important to remember that the origination story of tongzhi as a sexual-communal identifier begins with a film festival. There's something to be said for the symbolism embedded within that mythos – the uses of scripts and performance in our social and sexual lives.
describe the Middle English world in Middle English terms, Westerners can never truly orient themselves to relate "non-Western" realities. Is this an essentialist proclamation or a pragmatic acknowledgement of the way in which social constructions like time and geography – and the languages we use to capture them – will always limit our epistemologies?
Historiography is as much an act of gazing as it is an act of approximation. For instance, periodization enforces temporal paradigms. Post-modernists argue that we rely too heavily on chronologies and turns, often falling into the trap of allowing them to dictate our analyses, over the content of "the historical record" itself. (Square pegs and round holes and all that.) However, organizing history into eras is, unfortunately, a means of codifying large, undelineated swaths of time that would otherwise be beyond our ken. Yet, in the mind of the layperson, the field of history is especially synonymous with determinate (teleological) linearity and the memorization of "historic dates." Historiography has been reduced to chronological narrative construction. But it is so much more than that.
Most humans perceive time linearly and, as such, our historiographies reflect that mode of perception. But why is this form prioritized? Need history be inherently temporal? Indeed, need history be inherently geographic? Attempts to unravel this mystery have yielded esoteric theories like "nonlinearity" and "polytemporality" – comparable, perhaps, to "glocalized" histories that seek to simultaneously dispel and affirm essentialized conceptions of place and position. Is post-modernism, perhaps, simply an elitist, neo-colonialist form of intellectualism that "devours spaces," rather than critically engaging with the tangible realities of these monolithic constructions (like Asia or "the Third World") "as a series of historical positions, including those that enunciate essentialisms" (Prakash, 383-384). Further, how naive (as Prakash argues) is it really to invoke dichotomous historiographies of East and West – wherein, for example, whites invite POC to "write their own histories?" Can we not affirm that need for ourselves? Or are we still (constructively?) internalizing the white man's essentialisms of "us and them?" Tongzhi activists have adopted the perspectives and discourse of those who would oppose them (stylization) in order to advance their agenda of inclusivity (Wong, 17). Similarly, POC have stolen (appropriated) the white man's ideologies to use against him – to combat colonialism (think the Enlightenment and the Haitian Revolution). Can selective assimilation or acculturation be subversive? Is it simply a performative means of survival adopted for the purpose of defending oneself against the indignity of marginalization, exclusion, and oppression?
Consider the concluding lines of Sun Yat-sen's 1924 speech on Pan-Asianism:
"Oppressed peoples are found not only in Asia, but in Europe as well. Those countries that practice the rule of
Might do not only oppress the weaker people outside their continent, but also those within their own continent.
Pan-Asianism is based on the principle of the rule of Right, and justifies the avenging of the wrongs done to others.
An American scholar [Dr. Lothrop Stoddard] considers all emancipation movements as revolts against civilization.
Therefore now we advocate the avenging of the wrong done to those in revolt against the civilization of the rule of
Might, with the aim of seeking a civilization of peace and equality and the emancipation of all races."
Can Pan-Asianism truly encompass all Others when it can hardly capture its own heterogeneity? Just as "queer" threatens the nuanced diversity of all the acts, orientations, and identities it continues to subsume within itself, we might ask how a myriad of local in extremis definitions/movements could possibly be Pan-Asian. These overarching ideologies have, after all, been abused to legitimize war and colonial rule (from the Warring States period and One-China policy to Japanese dominion). Indeed, the Japanese cast their own aggression as "more 'benevolent' than Western colonial rule because Japanese were fellow Asians" (Szpilman and Saaler). East Asia has "historically constituted [a] region with its own hegemonic structure" (Hamashita, 113), often validated by the presence of a common enemy.
However, unification in its purest form ought not be hegemonic or assimilatory. The use of "umbrella" concepts accommodates difference without mastery. What is "Queer Asia," then? Present attempts to combine Pan-Asianism, history, and ("queer") sexuality remain scanty, however some themes may have already begun to emerge. For one thing, white scholars (ironically and perhaps counterintuitively) seem invested in participating in this new narrative construction. In Ara Wilson's case, she is self-conscious of her use of "queer" and justifies its use on the grounds of queer theory being its own field (however littered with Euro/Americentricisms). She, like the two editors of Routledge Handbook of Sexuality Studies in East Asia (both of whom happen to specialize in Japanese studies), argues that the regionalism inherent in these Pan-Asiatic histories is key to dismantling European and American generalizations. In other words, a provincializing, locally specific paradigm shift could potentially be dictated by POC. If Katz fathered LGBT history in the U.S. by drawing connections no one had attempted (going so far as to tentatively diversify by describing "gay-like" Native American peoples), how can we re-contextualize our lived experiences and rally under an umbrella not of sameness ("queer" and/or "Pan-Asian"), but of shared struggle and identifiable difference? Perhaps they are all one in the same.
twenty years of planning. Unlike static publishing, the site allows Green to continually update entries and expand his bibliography. Since its three-volume print publication in 2010, the dictionary has expanded by 2,500 entries (about half of which cover slang from the last five years). In the article quoted above, Green writes, "If I could ask for every word James Joyce uses for sex, Dickens for drunkenness, or Irvine Welsh for heroin, then so should everyone else." In his efforts to democratize our access to the history of vernacular English, Green has created an online edition that is sure to attract scholars, students, and casual users alike. Green also set out to cohesively historicize some of the terminology covered in his dictionary. On a separate Tumblr blog, Green embedded Timeglider timelines of certain lineages of slang (e.g., male homosexuality) and created a master list. These visualizations should prove to be invaluable to historians – especially those concerned with issues of presentism in historiography.
Green knew early on that his "e-book" would take the form of a website, he just didn't have the contacts. He considered getting a publisher (none of which were proving successful in the e-book market), an academic institution ("too poor"), or a business backer (too concerned with revenue). He ended up seeking a patron. A young programmer (David Kendal) volunteered his services for free, just because he was interested in the work. Green's process mirrors that of many scholars seeking to engage digital humanities in their work – a little bit of luck and a lot of effort. This dictionary qualifies as a digital history project because of its dynamic engagement with historical content, thoroughly demonstrated by the creator’s commitment to merge historical scholarship and digital technologies in creative and useful ways.
The scholarship appears sound and is updated regularly; however, the free version is entirely uncited. Relegating the bibliography to the paid version, while incentivizing, likely affects the (un)credited scholars more than it encourages subscription. The website design and interface is straight forward, though laggy when searching for terms. I especially liked the alphabetical scrolling in the browse feature. The Timeglider timelines, however, are embedded awkwardly in the Tumblr posts (the short dimensions make them difficult to use) and are not at all mobile-friendly. Zooming in and out can be slow and a few of the timelines look very crowded. The search option and the tag count were difficult to find due to so much screen space being taken up at once. Overall, the wealth of data is exciting and Timeglider is a great (albeit aesthetically outdated) tool.
My major issue with the Timeglider timelines is their lack of entry information. Besides each term and its year, no corresponding definition is available. Obviously, adding this information to each individual item would be time-consuming, and Green might not have the resources to accommodate site improvements. Users must refer back to the dictionary site to search the terms themselves. The multi-genre components of this single digital history project feel a bit disjointed because they are not linked. I would argue it is best to consolidate one’s body of work on a single platform/site – with different elements embedded or linked from one location.
In the case of Green's Dictionary of Slang, the creator might do well to link the site itself, his Timeglider timelines and Tumblr posts to one another and/or all in one place. As of now, it was up to me as the user to search on Google and