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Workshop on Rethinking Sociological Theory in Asia: Gender and Sexuality


Workshop on Rethinking Sociological Theory in Asia: Gender and Sexuality
31 MAR 2022
Prof. Stevi JACKSON, Prof. Petula HO Sik Ying, Dr. Travis KONG Shiu Ki
18:30 - 20:10
Online via Zoom
Corresponding GA(s)
Learning; Knowledge
Event: Workshop on Rethinking Sociological Theory in Asia: Gender and Sexuality

Speakers: (a) Prof. Stevi JACKSON
Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology/
Centre for Women's Studies, University of York, UK

(b) Prof. Petula HO Sik Ying
Professor, Department of Social Work and Social Administration,
The University of Hong Kong.

Title: Challenging Western Conceptions of Intimacy and Modernity

In questioning ‘western’ theoretical conceptions of modernity and intimacy (and the relationship between them) it is not enough to modify the works of such canonical figures as Beck, Giddens and Bauman to fit East Asian conditions. Instead, it is necessary to challenge their founding assumptions: that modernity was originally endogenously western, subsequently spreading and hybridising elsewhere, and the idea that modernity inevitably changes familial and intimate relationships in predictable ways. We should first, following Bhambra (2007, 2014), attend to East Asia’s positioning in the interconnected histories that have created global modernity, and secondly think of East Asian families and intimacies not simply as shaped by social change but as helping to shape it. Following these lines of enquiry necessitates teasing out the relationships between modernity as a global condition, diverse national(istic) modernization projects, and local experiences of modernity as each impacts upon and is impacted by familial and intimate relationships.

(a) Stevi Jackson is Professor Emerita in the Department of Sociology, University of York, UK, where she was previously Director of the Centre for Women’s Studies. She has published extensively on gender, sexuality (especially heterosexuality) and intimate relationships. Her most recent book, co-authored with Sik Ying Ho is Women Doing Intimacy: Gender, Family and Modernity in Britain and Hong Kong, Palgrave Macmillan 2020.

(b) Petula, Sik Ying Ho is Professor in the Department of Social Work and Social Administration at the University of Hong Kong. Her work includes, Women doing intimacy: Gender, family and modernity in Britain and Hong Kong (2020) co-authored with Stevi Jackson and Love and Desire in Hong Kong (2012), co-authored with Ka Tat Tsang. She is also author of I am Ho Sik Ying, 55 years old (2013) and Everyday Life in the Age of Resistance (2015). Her research projects explore the using of documentary films and multi-media theatre to integrate arts and scholarship. They include: 22 Springs: The Invincible (2010); The “Kong-lo” Chronicles, The Umbrella Movement: A Collaborative Focus Group Analysis” (2016); Labouring Women Devised Theatre (2019) and Our Imagined Future - If Someone Sees This After We Are dead (2021).


Speaker: Dr. Travis KONG Shiu Ki
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, The University of Hong Kong

Title: Transnational Queer Sociology: Young Gay Sexualities in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland China

Despite engaging with globalization, sociological theory has yet to address the geopolitics of knowledge production in a way that fully incorporates non-Western experiences. The sociology of homosexuality is a case in point. The dominant model for understanding contemporary non-Western, non-normative sexual identities is drawn from the theorization of Western queer identities, cultures, and communities. Western theories are often universalized, with non-Western experiences used merely as empirical data for validation. Situated in the emerging queer Asian studies, I propose a transnational queer sociological approach which offers a critique of globalization of homosexuality by comparing and contrasting nations and cultures to conceptualise the similarities and differences across them in order to produce mutually referenced experiences. More specifically, I use young gay men in Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China as case studies to illustrate the intertwining and mutually influencing effects of these young men’s sexual and cultural/national identities, revealing a complex relationship with the state and identity across different sites. This paper concludes that transnational queer sociology is part of the decolonizing sexualities programme that aims to provincialize Western knowledge of genders and sexualities in order to find the best account of non-Western, non-normative sexual identities, practices, and cultures.


Speaker: Dr. Denise TANG Tse Shang
Associate Professor, Department of Cultural Studies, Lingnan University

Title: Bridging Contexts: A Study on Transmen in Hong Kong and Thailand

This presentation uses an inter-Asia approach to study the movement of transmen bodies and the cultural translation of transgenderisms. Research has been primarily focused on Anglo-American societies with Southeast Asian and Native American research limited to anthropological studies (Chiang 2012). Decolonization of transgender studies have also been charged with querying knowledge production from “specificities of colonialisms” and the English language (Boellstorff et al., 2014: 421). I will examine the global circulation of transgender as an analytical category, a gender identification, an embodied experience and a theoretical concept, of which heeds caution across disciplines and international activist fronts.

Boellstorff, T., Cabral, M., C.rdenas, M., Cotten, T., Stanley, E. A., Young, K., Aizura, A. Z. (2014). Decolonizing Transgender: A Roundtable Discussion. TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, 1(3): 419–439. doi:
Chiang, H. (Ed.). (2012). Transgender China. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Denise Tse-Shang Tang is an interdisciplinary ethnographer specializing in gender, lesbian sexualities, social spaces and cultural politics primarily in Chinese societies. Tang's current book project is titled Everyday Erotics: Ethnographies of Older Lesbians and Bisexual Women in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. Present ethnographic focus is on everyday lives of trans men in Thailand and Hong Kong. Tang is Associate Professor in Cultural Studies at Lingnan University, Hong Kong. Prior to entering academia, Tang worked in community-based organizations serving communities including LGBTQI+ Asian & Pacific Islander youth, survivors of sexual violence, First Nations women, HIV-affected communities and youth in juvenile justice system, in San Francisco, Seattle and Vancouver B.C.


Speaker: Prof. WU Chia Ling
Professor, Department of Sociology, National Taiwan University, Taiwan

Title: Global Asia in Assisted Reproductive Governance

This presentation develops an analytical framework of global Asian studies, built upon the case of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) governance. While ARTs have been viewed as a global technology, most ARTs ethnographies and histories are nation-based. There have been some new efforts to make global IVF history and to advocate for a globally comparative approach, but the practices in East Asia are largely missing from the literature. I propose the importance of a global Asian approach in researching reproductive governance. The case I use is the controversy of the increasing prevalence of twins, triplets, and quadruplets, unprecedented in human history, due to the expansion of medically assisted conception. Multiple pregnancy and birth is the leading complication of ARTs as well as an indication of success. The globally collective efforts to tackle the issue are evident, from an international monitoring system to evidence-based medicine, but great global variety exists, particularly within East Asia. Japan has initiated one of the strictest guidelines in the world to prevent making multiple babies. By contrast, Taiwan has built the world’s most lenient regulation on the number of embryos to transfer during in-vitro fertilization (IVF). I argue that such contrasting models of anticipatory governance of ARTs spring from (1) the power dynamics among science, the state, and society; (2) the national sociotechnical imaginaries of assisted conception, ranging from viewing IVF as a nationalist pride (in Taiwan) to seeing it as a troublesome invention (in Japan); and (3) global-local dynamics, such as Taiwan’s selection of the lenient US guideline(rather than Japan’s strict one) so as to justify its own flexible standardization of clinical practices, whereas the ARTs leaders in Japan bridge the recommendations from international organizations and Japan’s local regulations to impose a demanding guideline. I suggest that, to fully understand how the world is facing challenging issues such as ARTs, it is important to incorporate different levels of investigation – those of global governance, national comparison, and exemplar cases.

CHIA-LING WU 吳嘉苓 ( is Professor of Sociology at the National Taiwan University. Her recent publications include works on the global-local politics of multiple embryo transfer; public financing of IVF in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan; and social exclusion of gender minorities in assisted reproductive technology regulation. She recently completed a book manuscript entitled Making Multiple Babies: Anticipatory Regimes of Assisted Reproduction. She is a co-founder of Birth Reform Alliance, an NGO whose aim is to establish better reproductive care in Taiwan.

Department of Sociology