Organized Panel Session
This presentation looks at early-twentieth century Vietnamese public debates concerning same-sex sexuality and asks the following questions: How did some members of the intelligentsia, some of whom were schooled in the East Asian tradition, some in the French colonial administration and some in both, conceive of such sexuality? Was it understood as a “sexuality”? If not, how did they understand it? And however it was understood, what were some of the terms in their respective traditions that they used? And what happens when these traditions come into dynamic contact with each other? In examining this archive, the talk will suggest that these debates thematize key problems of cultural translation. In particular, the paper examines how the discourse of Vietnamese queer sexuality is caught up in the cultural traffic of multiple discourses of sexuality, what some scholars such as Lydia Liu call the “complex forms of mediations” in the historical contact between languages. The presentation concludes with some of the implications of the argument on contemporary debates concerning transnational LGBT identities.