Utopian yearning: reconstructing China’s queer cultural histories
Wenqing Kang’s research monograph on male same-sex relations in the first half of the twentieth century in China makes a fresh and welcome contribution to the transnational post-Foucauldian project of mapping the modern history of sexualities outside the west. In five chapters examining language use, sexology, modernist fiction, tabloid newspaper reports, and the relations between Peking opera actors and their literati patrons, Kang’s book expands, deepens and productively complicates our understanding of modern male homosexuality in China. Its project and approach are broadly comparable to Tze-lan D. Sang’s (2003) work on women’s same-sex relations in China; Gregory Pflugfelder (1999), Sabine Frühstück (2003), and Mark McLelland’s (2000, 2005) work on modern (homo)sexualities in Japan; and Peter Jackson’s (1996, 1997) research on the histories of genders and sexualities in modern Thailand.
Fran Martin is author of Backward Glances: Contemporary Chinese Cultures and the Female Homoerotic Imaginary (Duke University Press, 2010) and Situating Sexualities: Queer Narratives in Taiwanese Fiction, Film and Public Culture (Hong Kong University Press, 2003), among other works. She translated Angelwings: Contemporary Queer Fiction from Taiwan (University of Hawai’i Press, 2003), and is a core member of the AsiaPacifiQueer network of scholars and a Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies at the University of Melbourne.