Organized Panel Session
This panel explores shifting constructions of intimate relations across colonial, national, and cultural boundaries during Asia’s “mobility revolution” between the 1850s and 1950s. While recent scholarship has analyzed how globalization and the commodification of intimacy have dramatically reshaped labor, romance, and family relations across Asia since the late twentieth century, this panel investigates the longer historical trajectories shaping these phenomena. The papers in this panel illustrate how changing transportation and communication technologies, migration regimes, and ideologies of race, gender, and sexuality facilitated certain forms of intimacy while excluding others. In doing so, they highlight how the individuals who forged a variety of intimate relations across Asia navigated and sometimes challenged the possibilities for transnational intimate exchange.
Sophie Loy-Wilson examines how emerging customs law in the Australian colonies during the gold-rush era became intertwined with racialized debates over the regulation of Chinese bodies. Sandy F. Chang shifts focus to the Straits Settlements to investigate Chinese polygamy as a site upon which colonial jurists debated ideals of marriage and modernity, as well as diasporic identity and imperial subjecthood in the early-20th century. Jack Neubauer analyzes how “adoption” programs for international child sponsorship in WWII-China created new forms of transnational intimate relations that helped establish the imaginative and institutional conditions for the rise of Asian international adoption as a global phenomenon. Continuing the theme of childhood and intimacy, Yuri Doolan focuses on how the construction of the Amerasian child within the American imaginary justified adoptions from Korea to America in the 1950s.