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28 Nov, Lecture@HU Berlin – Peter A. Jackson: “Transnational Queer History: Perspectives from Southeast Asia”

Prof. Peter A. Jackson, Australian National University, Pacific and Asian History

“Putting Transgenderism and Intimate Friendship Into Transnational Queer History: Perspectives from Southeast Asia”

Wednesday, 28. November 2012, 18:00 – 20:00, room TBA


Many accounts of the history of sexuality mark transgenderism as “premodern” while interpreting gay and lesbian identities as breaking out of “traditional” gender-defined modes of same-sex identity.  In these accounts, contemporary Southeast Asian transgender/transsexual identities – e.g., Thai kathoey, Indonesian waria, Filipino bakla – are seen as continuing premodern forms of ritualised transgenderism described for a number of regional societies.  Recent research from Southeast Asia (e.g. Boellstorff, Jackson) challenges this model, pointing to major breaks between premodern transgender roles and all contemporary same-sex and transgender/transsexual identities in the region.  In this paper Jackson considers the implications of this Southeast Asian research for transnational queer theory.  He argues that the central question for the transnational history of sexuality is not only how “modern” gay and lesbian homosexualities emerged out of “premodern” categories such as the sodomite, the virago, and the hermaphrodite, but rather the much more complex question of how the contemporary array of equally modern transgender, transsexual, gay, lesbian, and other queer identities all emerged across the same period.


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