Round-table discussion on Art and Activism at Macquarie University

Tagame Gengoroh’s recent memoir-cum-LGBT activist manifesto

On Thursday 25th October at 11am, I will be presenting some of my work in progress concerning the role of Tagame Gengoroh (whose writing I have previously translated here and here) as a cultural critic and emerging gay activist in Japan. Here are the details, from my university:

Round-table discussion on Art and Activism

Time: Thursday 25th October, 11am-12.30pm
Venue: 12WW, 803 Meeting Rm

Forming part of the emerging research network on activism under the FoA research theme on Ethics, Governance, and Justice, this round-table discussion aims to investigate the intersections between activism and artistic practice in a variety of different contexts. Drawing upon their work in progress, Thomas Baudinette (INTS), Justine Lloyd (SOC), and Can Yalcinkaya (MUIC) will explore the role of art in the development of civil society, social justice, and various kinds of advocacy. A focus will be placed upon drawing upon the study of artistic practice to chart the changing nature of activism within a global context, as well as discussing future trajectories and emerging challenges that may shape activism in the future. We invite interested colleagues to come along to join our open discussions. Everyone is welcome to attend with no RSVP and are also welcome to bring their lunch!

Here is a rough write up concerning what I will be talking to:

Thomas Baudinette is Lecturer in Japanese Studies in the Department of International Studies: Languages and Cultures. Trained in the discipline of cultural anthropology and the inter-disciplinary field of Japanese Studies, Thomas’s research and teaching interests focus specifically on the impact of media consumption among Japan’s diverse queer communities. Thomas is particularly interested in the historical development of Japan’s queer sub-cultural media and how this media has been consumed both within and without Japan. His monograph under-review entitled Regimes of Desire: Young gay men and media in Japan charts the impact of late 20th century neoliberal reforms of the Japanese economy on the discourses of desire circulating throughout the Japanese gay media landscape. His ethnographic enquiry into the consumption of said media amongst young men living in Tokyo revealed that the commoditisation of desire inherent within such neoliberalism has negatively impacted young men’s abilities to explore their sexual selves in Japan.

In recent years, Thomas has turned towards an investigation of the work of noted gay comic book artist Tagame Gengoroh, who has emerged in recent years as an important hyōronka (“cultural critic” or “public intellectual”) concerned with the rights of sexual minorities living in Japan. As part of this workshop, I wish to use Tagame as a case study to explore the role of hyōronka in Japanese queer rights activism and think through how such activism may me compromised by neoliberal structures circulating throughout the Japanese societal context. In particular, drawing upon a close reading of Tagame’s “gay comic book for straight people” entitled Otōto no Otto (My Younger Brother’s Husband) and a focus group discussion with young men in Tokyo concerning this comic, I seek to argue that Tagame’s adoption of what many informants termed a “Western activist perspective” may be problematic within the Japanese cultural context.

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