Mobile Cultures: New Media in Queer Asia
Editor: Chris Berry, Fran Martin, Audrey Yue
Publisher: Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003
Review Published: December 2006
We are delighted that our three-going-on-four year-old anthology continues to be read and reviewed in the world of new media studies, where everything seems to be obsolete even before it is published. Possibly this is because many of the issues that the anthology tries to raise and which Terri He touches upon in her both generous and critically engaged review are still current.
For example, Terri He points to the need for a greater geographical range of work on new media in queer Asia, touching upon countries and regions omitted from the anthology. Of course, she is right. When we compiled the essays, we worked long and hard but without success to find work on many places not represented in the volume. Now, several years later, we are aware of various people who have begun actively researching current developments in China, Vietnam, Iran, the Philippines, and elsewhere in the region, and we join Terri He in calling for work that will help to further break down inaccurate perceptions about where new media are used and by whom.
A second issue which we and Terri He see eye to eye on is the need to highlight the specificity of many terms in the field of Queer Studies (not least "queer" itself) by empirically grounded research that demonstrates local specificity. Terri He understands this to operate in the book as a contrast between the West and the non-West, an opposition through which she frames the book at the same time as she criticizes it. We would hope that future researchers reading the book will take up He's point and the essays in the book to go further. Asia is more specific than the "non-West," and we believe the careful attention of the contributors to the volume pay to local specificity in particular cities and countries demonstrates that "Asia" itself is not a unified analytical category. On the other side of the coin, the theories and concepts about "queer" that Terri He points to as requiring greater thought are also not just "Western," but more specifically the product of English-language academia, and they have not necessarily circulated that far outside either academic or English-language cultures (with some notable exceptions, for example, in queer scholarship in Taiwan, Japan, and Korea). In this way, we hope that the very specific and empirical work gathered in the anthology will help to challenge the West and non-West binary as well as generalizations about new media and new media usage.
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