24 Apr 2012

Encountering Sexual Aliens

State Sovereignty and the Heteronormative Mechanism at Work on the Margins of Taiwan
By Antonia Chao
As many scholars of migration studies have shown in their works, the increasingly complicated patterns of border-crossing activities in the contemporary age of globalization have posed a grave challenge to the feasibility of the nation-state model conventionally held by both the sending and receiving countries. Some have also highlighted the fact that gender politics plays a significant, while often hidden, role in shaping the phenomenon that is recognized generally as “the feminization of globalization”.

Based on ethnographic research conducted on Taiwan’s three crucial sites of national borders, this talk mined the intersections between border control, state sovereignty, national belonging and “perverted sexualities”. The focus was on three forms of subjects, perceived as “sexual aliens”, whose trans-migratory acts violate the principle of biological and heterosexual reproduction that upholds the meanings, practices and institutions of border control. The normalizing regulations imposed upon these subjects, be they “lived” or “imaginary”, highlight three corresponding sites of bio-political governance at once outside of, within, and right along the borders of Taiwan’s geographical territories. While all are in keeping with the agenda of heteronormativity, these sites are situated in a distinct circuit of transnational traffic of sexualities and thus require different modes of governance. Intentionally or coincidentally, these modes of governance coordinate with each other in helping construct a nation whose sovereignty has been in perpetual crisis within the international political community.

Antonia Chao is Professor at the Department of Sociology, Tunghai University, Taiwan. She received her PhD in cultural anthropology from Cornell University (USA) in 1996. She published widely on the politics of sexuality in Taiwan, and participated in many Southeast Asian queer conferences, for example at the “Center for the Study of Sexualities” (National Central University, Jungli City, Taiwan, 1996), the “AsiaPacifiQueer” (University of Technology, Sydney, 2001), or the “Sexualities, Genders, and Rights in Asia” (Bangkok, Thailand, 2005).


ICI Berlin
(Click for further documentation)

Organized by

Antke Engel
Sabine Hark

In English

First published on: https://www.ici-berlin.org/events/antonia-chao/
Rights: © ICI Berlin
Cite as: Antonia Chao, Encountering Sexual Aliens: State Sovereignty and the Heteronormative Mechanism at Work on the Margins of Taiwan, lecture, ICI Berlin, 24 April 2012 <https://doi.org/10.25620/e120424>