Research Outcomes

GRANTS & PROJECTS

Michelle Ho (Principal Investigator) and her team of NUS scholars, Shivani Gupta, Jungup Lee, and Bimlesh Wadhwa were awarded a Pilot Project Grant from the NUS Centre for Trusted Internet and Community (CTIC) for their project, “Detrimental to Our Well-Being: Digital Technologies and Campus Sexual Misconduct in Singapore.” The 12-month project commenced in March 2021 and is expected to conclude in February 2022.
For the same project, “Detrimental to Our Well-Being: Digital Technologies and Campus Sexual Misconduct in Singapore,” Shivani Gupta (Applicant) and Michelle Ho  (Co-Applicant) were also awarded an FASS Staff Research Support Scheme (SRSS). This scheme will support the continuation of the project for 9 months from July 2021 to March 2022.

PUBLICATIONS

Gupta, Shivani. 2020. ”Everyday Classrooms: Feminist Pedagogies in #MeToo Era.” ISA-E-Symposia, March. 
 
In the #MeToo era, the discussion on sexual harassment/assault/violence has taken a new turn. While there has been a wave in which women have come forward to share their experiences there is a shift in attitudes, especially within institutional settings. The movement has generated fear and a mutated silence where most privileged individuals, cis-abled upper class men, are afraid of getting caught rather than understanding and engaging with sexual vulnerabilities that various sections of society experience. The accountability of people has been erased through imposition of institutional directives. The various steps being brought into institutional operations are to curb criticism rather than eliminate sexism and misogyny. In this environment, the paper examines and explores feminist pedagogy as a way to rethink and reorganise classrooms into equal, safe and empowering spaces. The paper analyses and presents various tenets and principles that can be used in classrooms, even the ones that are not focused on women and/or gender studies, where students and teachers share power and are made accountable towards one another and society.
Hall, Kira, Rodrigo Borba, and Mie Hiramoto. “Language and Gender.” In The International Encyclopedia of Linguistic Anthropology, edited by James Stanlaw, 892-913. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell, 2020. 

The field of language and gender is methodologically diverse, encompassing approaches that include conversation analysis, corpus linguistics, critical discourse analysis, discursive psychology, linguistic anthropology, and variationist sociolinguistics (Harrington et al. 2008; Ehrlich, Meyerhoff, and Holmes 2014; Zimman and Hall 2016; Meyerhoff and Ehrlich 2019). Within this diversity, ethnography has long been a key method for interrogating the social semiotic complexities of gender, securing the field’s close partnership with linguistic anthropology (Besnier and Philips 2014; Gaudio 2018; Hall and Davis 2020). In fact, in his review of three historical shifts in the study of language as culture in US anthropology, Duranti identifies language and gender scholars working beyond linguistic anthropology as part of a cohort who “made possible” the field’s shift to the third paradigm in the 1990s, citing their attention to “the role of language in establishing gender, ethnic, and class identities” (2003, 332). This historical review outlines the prominent role played by linguistic anthropology in the theorization of gender by highlighting its enduring methodological and conceptual contributions, while also outlining the ways that interdisciplinary scholarship in the field of language and gender – or rather, language, gender, and sexuality, as the field is now often called – has shaped the course of linguistic
anthropology.
Hall, Kira, Rodrigo Borba, and Mie Hiramoto. “Relocating power: The feminist potency of language, gender and sexuality research.” Gender and Language 15, no. 1 (2021): 1-10. https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.19523. 

[Open access]
Hiramoto, Mie. “Reflections on the Field of Language and Sexuality Studies: a View from Japanese Context.” Journal of Language and Sexuality 10, no. 1 (2021): 37-47. https://doi.org/10.1075/jls.00012.hir. 

This paper discusses contributions of the Journal of Language and Sexuality made in the past decade in publication in relation to a development of the field currently recognized as language, gender and sexuality. I detail the development by using studies on joseigo ‘Japanese women’s language’ and discuss how it has impacted the field as a domain of scholarship and practice in the current moment beyond the study of the Japanese language. Lastly, I end the paper by commenting on directions in which language and sexuality studies have not yet examined but ought to address in future inquiry.
Hiramoto, Mie, Rodrigo Borba, and Kira Hall. “Hope in a Time of Crisis.” Gender and Language 14, no.4 (2020): 347-57. https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.42609. 

[Open access]
Ho, Michelle H. S. 2021. “Categories that Bind: Transgender, Crossdressing, and Transnational Sexualities in Tokyo.” Sexualities. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/1363460721102810.

This paper investigates “toransujendā” (transgender), “josō” (male-to-female crossdressing), and “otoko no ko” (boy/male daughter) as categories that bind through ethnographic research in Tokyo’s contemporary josō gyōkai (scene and business circles). Building on queer and transgender scholarship, I ask what these categories mean, what they do, and how they figure in trans people’s everyday lives and the institutionalization of seidōitsuseishōgai (Gender Identity Disorder). I argue that categories are imbued with asymmetrical power relations and operate affectively, emerging from contact between bodies and practices. Ultimately, they are important sites for questioning categories of “gender” and “sexuality” in transnational sexuality and transgender studies.
Ho, Michelle H. S., Eva Cheuk-Yin Li, and Lucetta Y. L. Kam. 2021. “Editorial introduction: androgynous bodies and cultures in Asia.”  Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 22 (2):129-138.

This is an introduction to the special issue “Androgynous Bodies and Cultures in Asia,” which explores gender and sexuality issues in relation to “androgyny” as a concept in 21st century Asia. [Open access]
Ho, Michelle H. S. 2021. “From Dansō to Genderless: Mediating Queer Styles and Androgynous Bodies in Japan.” Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 22 (2):158-177.

This article explores the mediation of androgynous bodies and styles in contemporary Japan by mapping the relationship between dansō (female-to-male crossdressing) and “genderless” (jendāresu). Dansō refers to gender-crossing practices usually by individuals who are assigned female at birth, whereas genderless is a mode of fashion emerging in 2010 which theoretically denotes styles that do not distinguish between genders. Drawing on media coverage of dansō individuals and genderless joshi (girls) in the 2010s, supplemented by ethnographic research conducted in a Tokyo’s dansō cafe-and-bar, I argue that these individuals embraced genderbending practices before being named as “doing” dansō or genderless. Through their distinct but related androgynous practices, they construct alternative identities and ways of being and retrospectively become interpellated as “dansō” and “genderless.” Further, I suggest that dansō and genderless not only allow us to rethink the gender binary, particularly in queer studies and transgender studies in a transnational context, but also the connections between style and gender and sexual subjectivities. Placing dansō and genderless on a spectrum instead of considering the two as separate phenomena opens up new conversations about androgynous bodies at the intersections of queer studies, fashion studies, and cultural studies in Asia.
Pak, VincentForthcoming. “Hearing trans voices in higher education and pedagogical environments.” In GEARING-Roles Handbook, edited by Mary Kitchener. Oxford: Oxford Centre for Staff Learning and Development.

Gender and sexuality talk in Singapore has gained currency in recent years, but trans perspectives do not enjoy the same level of visibility in general, especially in higher education environments. In this handbook entry, I draw inspiration from a recent online roundtable discussion co-organised by the Gender and Sexuality Research Cluster at the National University of Singapore that featured and centred trans students and professionals. I propose that such events are essential not only in ensuring the representation of trans individuals, but also crucial as an instance of experiential learning that directs attention to more phenomenological modes of teaching and learning.
Pua, Phoebe. Forthcoming. “Filmic Empathy in the Inclusive Classroom.” In GEARING-Roles Handbook, edited by Mary Kitchener. Oxford: Oxford Centre for Staff Learning and Development.  

As students grow accustomed to mediated forms of knowledge production and acquisition, the value of incorporating films to teaching has proportionately risen (Willingham 2009;Walters and Rehma 2013). I provide a case study drawn from my experiences in organizing film screenings and post-screenings discussions at undergraduate and postgraduate levels at the National University of Singapore. I demonstrate that integrating relevant films as primary materials in the teaching of sensitive topics, such as those pertaining to marginal and vulnerable communities, expands the world of the classroom to include the voices and experiences of people who may otherwise remain silent subjects of investigations. Affirming Blasco and Moreto’s (2012) research on the film medium’s potential in encouraging students’ empathy, I argue that the incorporating of films, when judiciously chosen, can inspire critical yet sensitive student discussion and thus be a constructive pedagogical method of fostering inclusive classrooms. This case study will be published in the forthcoming handbook by Gender Equality Actions in Research Institutions to Transform Gender Roles (GEARING-Roles), a multidisciplinary consortium of 10 European academic and non-academic partners that will design, implement, and evaluate gender equality plans. For more information, visit https://gearingroles.eu

Citations: 
Blasco, P. G., & Moreto, G. 2012. Teaching Empathy through Movies: Reaching Learners’ Affective Domain in Medical Education. Journal of Education and Learning1(1), 22-34.   
Walters, A. S. & Rehma, K. 2013. Avenue T: Using Film as entrée in Teaching about Transgender. Sex Education13(3), 336-348, doi: 10.1080/14681811.2012.743460 
Willingham, D. T. (2009). Why Don’t Students Like School? Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons.
Skelton, Tracey. 2020. “The importance of feminist audacity: Learning from the Pacific and the Caribbean. A Commentary on Yvonne Underhill-Sem’s ‘The audacity of the ocean: Gendered politics of positionality in the Pacific’.” Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 41, 332 – 338.

In this commentary I glean parts of Underhill-Sem’s article in order to structure a discussion around notions of ‘area’ and a particular set of collective events that took place in 2019 in several Pacific islands. Focusing on Samoa specifically, I work to examine the ways in which we can respond to Underhill-Sem’s foregrounding of ‘contemporary Pacific indigeneity’ (Underhill-Sem, this issue, p. 314) as part of her commitment to the necessary processes of decolonising ‘thinking, language and practice[s]’ (Underhill-Sem, this issue, p. 314) through teaching and research. Much of my own work, particularly that located in the Caribbean (Skelton, 2004a and b200520082016), takes seriously critical, interrogatory and decolonization approaches to scholarship and aligns with Underhill-Sem’s research and activism in the Pacific. Through our cared for, and caring, ‘areas’ of the Pacific and the Caribbean, we remain watchful and thoughtful about what has happened, what is happening and what might happen. Speaking of these places and the people we are connected to is a way of ensuring that care, attention and diffraction are given to these amazing places and people. We, and the women we know and love in the Pacific and the Caribbean, must continue to be audacious for that is where positive change, dwelling and being are rendered possible.
Starr, Rebecca, Christian Go, and Vincent Pak. 2021. “‘Keep calm, stay safe, and drink bubble tea’: Commodifying the crisis of Covid-19 in Singapore advertising.”  Language in Society. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404521000567.
 
Advertisements employ multimodal configurations of semiotic resources in an effort to lead consumers to draw particular meanings from desired consumption behaviors. This analysis examines the deployment of such resources in advertising during the global Covid-19 pandemic, focusing on the Southeast Asian nation of Singapore. We identify five discourses that offer distinct framings of Covid-19 as a challenge for workers, a wellness issue, a threat to home and family, a challenge for women, and a threat to the Singapore lifestyle. Undergirded by neoliberal notions such as the productivity imperative, these discourses rationalize a range of consumer behaviors as necessary and justified in the struggle to defeat the virus. Advertisements are argued to place the burden of navigating the pandemic primarily on women via the evocation of power femininity. We propose a new framework, crisis commodification, as a means of understanding the ideological mechanisms at play in Covid-19 advertising.

Yuen, Shu Min. Forthcoming. “Trans Voices from Japan—An Excerpt from Double Happiness,” TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly.
 
This abridged translation of a Japanese trans autobiography Double Happiness (Daburu Happinesu), published in 2006 by Sugiyama Fumino, seeks to bring one of the diverse voices of trans people in Japan into English-language studies on gender and sexuality. Contrary to many mainstream Japanese representations of trans that either portray trans people as objects of ridicule or as inherently and single-mindedly desiring surgery as a means to an end (of authentic identity expression), Double Happiness highlights the fluidity and complexity of trans identity and subject-formation. In the book, readers bear witness to the changes in the author’s gender identity, from that of an unspeakable question mark, to the medically and socially acknowledged category of Gender Identity Disorder (GID), and later to “half”, and finally to a rejection and an eventual re-acceptance of the label GID. Through this selected translation of Sugiyama’s autobiography, I hope to bring attention to the under-researched and often-overlooked lives of trans men in contemporary Japan in the English-speaking world.  
Yuen, Shu Min. Forthcoming. “Doing Transgender Studies in Japanese Studies—A Short Reflection,” New Voices in Japanese Studies.
 
Globalisation and the end of the Cold War have resulted in claims about cultural homogenisation, and the futility of speaking about “areas” as enclosed geographical locations. However, it remains a fact that space-based differences do not disappear with globalisation, and geoculturally-specific discourses continue to be produced. Empirical research and area-based knowledge therefore remain relevant not only in helping us understand our contemporary world, but also in challenging the hegemony of Western-derived theories and concepts that have come to be taken as universal and dominated both academic and general writing. In this paper, I draw on my research on the transgender community in Japan to show how the tools of area studies can contribute to expanding the conceptual boundaries of transgender studies, and how the lens of transgender can complicate existing knowledge on the culture and society of Japan.

TALKS

Hiramoto, Mie. 2021. “Is a diverse and inclusive academia possible?” 16th Singapore Graduate Forum on Southeast Asian Studies, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, Singapore, July 7.

This session addresses questions of diversity, equity and inclusion in academia. Diversity in class, background, gender and sexual orientations, race, ethnicity, dis/ability status etc. can enrich and stimulate an excellent research environment. Diversity and inclusivity, however, are structurally limited by systemic hindrances as well as cultural assumptions. Awareness about the need for a more diverse and inclusive academia can protect our institutions, classrooms, and knowledge production from the perpetration of neo-colonial, ableist and patriarchal discourses. These debates are often overlooked in the field of Southeast Asian Studies. The speakers in this session will contribute to the discussion on diversity and inclusibity in academia from the perspective of gender and dis/ability studies. As a goal of this presentation is to assist young scholars’ professional development, Mie Hiramoro will first touch on different types of publication options (working papers, journals, book chapters, etc.). Following this, professionalization points surrounding one’s publication in their academic career will be explained, particularly to promote minority scholars’ works. Academia is known for having the inherent inequalities for women and men’s career options. Likewise, problems of access to academic careers, recognition, and citation gaps are evident for queer and non-cisgender scholars, too. In order to support minority scholars, the presentation will feature helpful methods of promoting these scholars’ works before and after publication in today’s academia. This will include effective strategies for (1) building support network, (2) promoting one’s publication, (3) moving forward to new projects, and (4) self-care tips to survive in academia.
Ho, Michelle H. S. 2021. “Researching Gender and Sexuality in Asia: Theory, Method, and Practice.” Masterclass, 16th Singapore Graduate Forum on Southeast Asian Studies, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, Singapore, June 16.

Gender and sexuality studies is often criticized as a “Western” import and thus alienated from “Asian” perspectives and inapplicable to “Asian culture.” But what does this mean for Asia-based scholars whose lived realities and research interests are embedded in issues of gender and sexuality? How might they do research on gender and sexuality in Asian contexts? What methodologies do they draw on and does it matter which approaches they use? At the same time, these scholars also grapple with the EuroAmerican-centrism of queer and feminist knowledge production, in which theories are produced from the West but not from Asia whereas the experiences of people in Asia are either largely absent or treated as “objects” of study. What can we as scholars researching gender and sexuality in Asian contexts do to challenge this unequal production of knowledges? How can Asia-based scholars do the work of theorizing gender and sexuality? Finally, in what ways do we merge our scholarly practices with pedagogy and positionality? Practicing gender and sexuality studies in Asia means being invested in how diverse ways of knowing and doing empower us to make sense of our personal experiences. As instructors, we also reflect on our teaching of queer and feminist theories and methods, which our students might apply to their everyday lives and yet also develop their own understandings. These are some of the complex issues and questions we will attempt to tackle in this session.

CONFERENCES

Gupta Shivani. 2021. “Regimes of Surveillance and Spaces of Subversions: Locating Initimacies, Pleasures and Solidarities.” Annual Conference on South Asia. Centre for South Asia. University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, October 20-24.
Hiramoto, Mie. 2021. “Of creepiness and masculinity: Queer male characters’ mediatization in popular shōnen anime.” The 17th International Pragmatics Conference, Zürich University of Applied Sciences, Winterthur, June 28.

This presentation demonstrates the representations of unconventional speech styles and semiotics through an examination of queer male characters in popular shōnen action anime, a genre of animated work that is aimed at adolescent boys and young adults (see Dahlberg-Dodd 2018).  Gender ideologies, especially for different types of masculinities, have certain overlapping elements across different cultures. However, representations of queer Japanese men in popular shōnen anime are characterized by a distinctive element, namely, creepiness. By examining mediatization strategies of queer action anime characters and their portrayals in mainstream media, I pay particular attention to constructions of masculinity and sexuality from the viewpoints of sociolinguistics, masculinity studies, and semiotics. 
 
Many anime are adopted from manga including the selected data for this study; however, for my data, I only use anime and exclude the original manga productions in order to incorporate features for fuller analysis such as voice quality and color. Based on the notions of linguistic and visual enregisterment, this study employs concepts of mediatization and semiotics to illustrate two points (1) widely accepted male queer characters’ typecasting in action anime is implicit way to encourage discrimination, and (2) characteristics of the queer male characters are conventionalized via caricatures based on dominant discourses of hegemonic masculinity.
 
Most of the characters that appear in my data conform to heterosexual norms; however, several of them feature queer male characters as sidekicks. Yet, protagonists are always dominated by heteronormative male characters. In a way, queer male characters have been successfully mediated and mediatized with undesirable values such as creepiness, unwanted attachments, maniac nature, and hypermasculine ruthlessness. These values are associated with traditional masculine ideologies through naturalized semiotic processes.
 
I examine the following prototypical queer male characters from the fighting action-based genre:  Yuda (Hokuto no Ken ‘Fist of the North Star’), Nathan Seymore (Tiger & Bunny), and Puri Pri Prisoner (One Punch Man). These anime share a common story of characters surviving in a chaotic world by mainly utilizing their battle skills. Generally, these characters are depicted as sexually non-heteronormative and non-normative in their ways of practicing and developing their combatting skills. Their roles are to emphasize the protagonists’ superior capabilities in their survival regardless of their villainous or heroic attributes; moreover, they share both feminine and masculine demeanors through their language use and appearances .  
 
By focusing on the discursive patterns and visual representations of the characters, I discuss how these mediatizations index queer masculinity in ways that mesh with the audiences’ expectations of creepiness.  This is a result of their deviance from normative masculine ideologies due to typecasting, as such figures have developed through mediatizations. As Lippi-Green (1997) points out, popular media productions, such as Disney, can implicitly influence viewers to motivate discrimination against minority characters. Similarly, the trivializations of the queer male characters in popular shōnen anime does not help the existing stigmatization of sexual minorities.
Hiramoto, Mie, Rodrigo Borba and Kira Hall. 2021. “Publishing in gender and language.” The 11th International Gender and Language Association Conference, Queen Mary University of London, London, June 22. 
Kapoor, Shrutika and Mie Hiramoto. 2021. “Be a man, be handsome!: Discursive construction of idealized masculinity in Indian advertisements.” The 11th International Gender and Language Association Conference, Queen Mary University of London, London, June 22-24.

The James Bond films have been extensively studied in media and gender scholarship since the franchise’s debut in 1962, and are often criticized for their cultural appropriation, misogyny, and stereotyping among other things (e.g., Amis (1965), Moniot (1976), Lindner (2003), Dodds (2003, 2006)). The earlier films’ success owed much to its showcasing Bond’s imagined ‘spy’ masculinity tagged with a grand-scale international setting. As the Bond’s brand of masculinity was cemented in the industry, it was also well-situated in an era in Hollywood history where filmic representations of masculinities were particularly one-dimensional, that is, aggression, violence, and indestructability were embodied traits of the lead male actors in films like Rocky (1976) and Terminator (1984). The Bond character’s suave, intelligent demeanor therefore served as a welcome alternative to what Jeffords (1994) calls “hard bodies”. 

Regarding Bond’s brand of masculinity over the course of decades, certain shifts in mediatization strategies can be noted. Particularly, given the emerging trend of presented masculinities through linguistic and visual mediatization strategies in the newer films, we discuss the trajectory of Bond’s manhood from earlier to contemporary films to elucidate how masculinities, as embodied by different Bond actors, are used to enregister the character’s overall characteristics. We examine nine representative films including Thunderball (1965), Diamonds are Forever (1971), Casino Royale (2006), SPECTRE (2015) in order to take a diachronic look at how the various Bond actors portray recognizable traits of masculinity that correspond to the era they belong to. Referring to an idea of affect (Ahmed 2004), this presentation discusses how depictions of masculine qualities showcased in the selected Bond films have transformed the Bond character from ‘a superhero in tuxedo’ to ‘a hard-bodied human’. In particular, we draw on notions of mediatization and enregisterment (Agha 2007, 2011) as our analytical framework, and compare the differences in cinematic discourse employed in Bond films across different eras. 

The franchise’s first Bond actor, Sean Connelly, contributed to fixing the protagonist’s ‘superhero in tuxedo’ image with his sophisticated and invincible typecasting. However, recent productions witnessed a significant turn due to the added features including explicit descriptions of physical vulnerability and emotional fallibility assigned to male characters including Bond. Notably, the Bond role played by the most recent actor, Daniel Craig, exhibits these new features which effectively appeal to viewers’ affects. For example, Craig’s Bond not only revolutionized the character’s romantic involvements with women, but also demonstrated a nascent physical weakness—traits that were generally absent before. 

All in all, the results of our investigation show us that, in recent films, softer masculinities loaded with affect are enregistered linguistically and visually to assign a markedly desirable role to the protagonist. In conclusion, an argument is made for the heightened levels of vulnerability as a response to contemporary audiences’ appetites for more complex film narratives, as well as a demand for more relatable and realistic portrayals of masculinities. The action film genre in particular must evolve if it is to meet the needs of male fantasy in contemporary society with shifting gender politics.
Pak, Vincent and Mie Hiramoto. 2021. “From manhood with love: Shifting masculinities in James Bond films.” The 11th International Gender and Language Association Conference, Queen Mary University of London, London, June 22-24.

The James Bond films have been extensively studied in media and gender scholarship since the franchise’s debut in 1962, and are often criticized for their cultural appropriation, misogyny, and stereotyping among other things (e.g., Amis (1965), Moniot (1976), Lindner (2003), Dodds (2003, 2006)). The earlier films’ success owed much to its showcasing Bond’s imagined ‘spy’ masculinity tagged with a grand-scale international setting. As the Bond’s brand of masculinity was cemented in the industry, it was also well-situated in an era in Hollywood history where filmic representations of masculinities were particularly one-dimensional, that is, aggression, violence, and indestructability were embodied traits of the lead male actors in films like Rocky (1976) and Terminator (1984). The Bond character’s suave, intelligent demeanor therefore served as a welcome alternative to what Jeffords (1994) calls “hard bodies”. 

Regarding Bond’s brand of masculinity over the course of decades, certain shifts in mediatization strategies can be noted. Particularly, given the emerging trend of presented masculinities through linguistic and visual mediatization strategies in the newer films, we discuss the trajectory of Bond’s manhood from earlier to contemporary films to elucidate how masculinities, as embodied by different Bond actors, are used to enregister the character’s overall characteristics. We examine nine representative films including Thunderball (1965), Diamonds are Forever (1971), Casino Royale (2006), SPECTRE (2015) in order to take a diachronic look at how the various Bond actors portray recognizable traits of masculinity that correspond to the era they belong to. Referring to an idea of affect (Ahmed 2004), this presentation discusses how depictions of masculine qualities showcased in the selected Bond films have transformed the Bond character from ‘a superhero in tuxedo’ to ‘a hard-bodied human’. In particular, we draw on notions of mediatization and enregisterment (Agha 2007, 2011) as our analytical framework, and compare the differences in cinematic discourse employed in Bond films across different eras. 

The franchise’s first Bond actor, Sean Connelly, contributed to fixing the protagonist’s ‘superhero in tuxedo’ image with his sophisticated and invincible typecasting. However, recent productions witnessed a significant turn due to the added features including explicit descriptions of physical vulnerability and emotional fallibility assigned to male characters including Bond. Notably, the Bond role played by the most recent actor, Daniel Craig, exhibits these new features which effectively appeal to viewers’ affects. For example, Craig’s Bond not only revolutionized the character’s romantic involvements with women, but also demonstrated a nascent physical weakness—traits that were generally absent before. 

All in all, the results of our investigation show us that, in recent films, softer masculinities loaded with affect are enregistered linguistically and visually to assign a markedly desirable role to the protagonist. In conclusion, an argument is made for the heightened levels of vulnerability as a response to contemporary audiences’ appetites for more complex film narratives, as well as a demand for more relatable and realistic portrayals of masculinities. The action film genre in particular must evolve if it is to meet the needs of male fantasy in contemporary society with shifting gender politics.
Yuen, Shu Min. 2021. “Guyz with a Secret: Towards an Alternative Queer Modernity.” Paper presented at Media and Mediation in East Asia: Assemblages and Global Flows (2021 Summer Institute for East Asian Studies), University of Pittsburgh, Jun 2-4.

Since the new millennium, transnational masculine female celebrities such as Chris Lee (China), Jing Chang (Taiwan), Denise Ho (Hong Kong), Suppanad Jittaleela (Thailand) have taken Asia by storm. In Japan, although lesser-known, masculine female and trans male idol groups have also gained a substantial following in the past decade. This paper focuses on the Japanese trans male boyband Secret Guyz and drawing on my ethnographic fieldwork in Japan and together with an analysis their performances, I explore how the “FTM idol group” enables the claiming of a form of queer visibility that both emerges out of, and is complicit with the neoliberal and neoconservative regime of post-bubble Japan. I argue that the queer possibility that is enabled by the emergent female and trans masculine sensibility across Asia points to a queer modernity that challenges the Western teleological narrative of rights and recognition.
Yuen, Shu Min. 2021. “Doing Transgender Studies in Japanese Studies”. Paper presented at Beyond Japanese Studies: Symposium: Challenges, Opportunities And COVID-19, Japan Foundation Sydney & University of New England, Feb 18-19.

In this presentation, I draw on my research on the transgender community in Japan to highlight how a nuanced understanding of trans lives in Japan can contribute to a decolonization and de-westernization of transgender knowledge production. I show how a theorization of an alternative transgender modernity in Japan, which runs counter to the western rights-and-recognition model of queer liberation, challenges us to rethink the ways in the which we think and speak about trans lives and social justice. No doubt, in this era of global convergence and unprecedented movement of people, goods and capital across borders, we can no longer speak about “areas” as enclosed geographical locations. Yet, as scholars such as Andrew Gordon (1998) and Peter Jackson (2018) argue, local formations will not disappear with globalization, and space-based difference continue to be produced and have relevance to our understanding of our contemporary world. Echoing these scholars, I argue for the importance of empirical research and contextual knowledge, and hence the continued relevance of area/Japanese studies, in challenging the hegemony of Western-derived theories and concepts that have come to be taken as universal and which have dominated both academic and general writing.