Colloquium with Professor Robert Garcia Diaz, Andrew Mellon Sawyer Postdoctoral Fellow, UCLA Department of English
In contemporary Filipino discourses, demands for political reparation from the Japanese have often relied on patriarchal assumptions about female identity. This presentation asks how we might challenge limited notions of Filipina victimhood as we map out the political possibilities of such a project. How might we expose limited notions of "victim" within the Philippine cultural lexicon, as we further understand the linkages between reparation, victimhood, and nationalism?
Unpacking these concerns, this talk will briefly examine two movies that depict Japanese (neo)colonialism. Interestingly enough, these works queer the victims of imperial duress. Gil Portes's "Markova: Comfort Gay" follows the lives of Walterina Markova and her friends as they are turned into sexual slaves by the Japanese army in Manila. Interpreting key moments of violence in the film, most evident in ritualized scenes of rape, the talk will suggest that Markova exposes as it disrupts hetero-sexist notions of Filipino identity under Japanese duress. The film inevitably challenges the very limited scripts female "victimhood" occupies by having the queer subject stand in for and deliver the comfort woman's narrative.
Nick DeOcampo's "Sex Warriors" is a documentary that focuses on the struggles of queer Japayukis during the early 1990s. The talk suggest that by re-focusing on the queer Japayuki as the victim of a growing overseas labor market, DeOcampo highlights how dominant representations of diasporic overseas contract work must depend upon strict notions of patronage and familial belonging, regardless of the victim's sexual identity.
A final concern of the presentation are the ways in which notions of victimhood, survival, and redress in these films are inherently worked through an understanding of how queer subjects survive and navigate various metropolitan spaces (in this case Manila and Tokyo). How might the representation of queer subjectivity in these works subtend current arguments about neoliberal politics, normative sexuality, and the ever-changing cosmopolitan space? How might these works reflect and depart from limited notions of queer subjectivity in a period of expanding transnational capital?
Aside from being the Andrew Mellon Sawyer Postdoctoral Fellow (2009-2010), Robert G. Diaz also teaches at Wayne State University’s English Department as an Assistant Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies. He has also been awarded an Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Southern California in Comparative Ethnic Studies (2007-2008). Together with Joshua Chambers-Letson, Diaz guest-edited a special issue of Women and Performance for Routledge Press on “Performing Reparation: Practice, Methodology, Process”. His research interests are in Diaspora Studies, Asian American Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Performance Studies. His current book project, Reparative Acts: Redress and the Politics of Queer Undoing explores how queer minorities in the diaspora expand political and economic reparations beyond monetary forms of redress. Diaz has presented excerpts of his research in institutions locally and abroad such as SUNY Stony Brook, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Rutgers University, Ateneo De Manila University, University of Santo Tomas, and University of the Philippines. In addition to teaching and writing, Diaz enjoys playing volleyball and watching Filipino melodramas.
Cost: Free and open to the public.
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