Thursday 17 March • 5.15pm • room S2.38 ('English Dept Common Room'), Strand building, Strand campus
Jun Zubillaga-Pow (King's College London)
'Foucault v. Singapore: The Thwart of Heterotopia in Films and Everyday Life'
ABSTRACT: Even as Judith Butler, among others, has overthrown the notion that sexuality and the performativity of the body should not be in social synchrony, contemporary academics and politicians continue to stigmatise homosexuality with their positivist inferences. Here, I argue against the stereotypical processes of identifying homosexuals as interacting only with bodies of the same type and deriving their sexual desires solely from objects, corporeal or otherwise. Using political, theoretical and textual resources, I aim to debunk two inherently homophobic ideas that (i) the body and its behaviour, in both the social and sexual aspects, are distinctive categories each occupying differentiable discursive spaces, and that (ii) spaces are resistant to critical re-territorialisation, or the impossibility to take over heteronormative sites, both real and imaginary.
Correspondingly, the trajectory of this paper exposes the pragmatic conventions upheld by a conservative Singaporean homosexual community as antagonistic to the generic queer theorising in contemporary academic writings. These arguments will be substantiated by empirical evidences obtained from the October 2007 parliamentary debates dealing with the repealing or retention of Section 377A of the Singapore Penal Code, as well as an appropriation of Foucault’s concept of the heterotopia as a geopolitical method of analysing six Singaporean queer films released between 2005 and 2010.
Jun Zubillaga-Pow is a PhD candidate at King's College London. He obtained his Masters (with Distinction) in Critical Methodologies, working on Modern French Theory and musical reception. He is currently the co-editor of two Singapore-related books on Music history and Queer criticism and has completed a monograph on the history of art music in post-Independence Singapore.
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