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THE INTERNATIONAL RESOURCE NETwORK (IRN) UPDATE By Deesha Narichania
Spring came early this year for the International Resource Network; in the past several months,
newly-funded IRN regions have been blooming, and already active regions are growing apace. In addition to the official IRN Asia events, Mark Blasius, also an active IRN member, organized a panel at the IASSCS Conference on Mediations of Sexual Agency and Social Justice in the Philippines and Beyond. Participants in this panel included Eufracio Abaya, Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Philippines, on ethics of care surrounding aging Bakla (gay) men in a Philippine locale; Nikos Lexis Dacanay, a PhD candidate at the University of the Philippines on the moral economy of gay men in Boracay; and Maria Dulce Natividad, of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, on reproductive and sexual health decisions made by urban poor women in the Philippines. IRN-Latin America/Caribbean IRN-Latin America/Caribbean (LAC) is moving forward, growing, and developing, generating two sub-regions: Latin America (broadly defined as Ibero- and Lusophone) and Caribbean (broadly defined as English, French, and Dutch speaking). While LAC remains a region-at-large, the creation of these sub-regions within IRN-LAC makes space for the fuller expression of regional and linguistic specificity. This subdivision has allowed IRN-LAC to grow in a number of directions: We have contracted Jasmin Blessing, who has extensive experience working in human rights and sexual rights, as Subregional Coordinator for Latin America, and Vidyaratha Kissoon, a content manager and anti-violence activist, to coordinate the Caribbean Subregion. Please see page 5 for their detailed bios. While Jasmin and Vidya will collaborate on the larger IRNLAC agenda, their separate geographical responsibilities will enable more focused attention on sub-regional needs. available on the website. IRN members and fellow scholars will not only present their scholarly work, but also participate in a working meeting to brainstorm around IRNLAC’s development and future goals. IRN-LAC (Latin America) member Rafael de la Dehesa attended the Latin America Studies Association conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and spread the word about the success of IRN-LAC (Latin America)’s working paper series Sexualidades. IRN-Africa In April of this year, IRN-Africa published its second issue of its innovative web journal Outliers, titled, Intersectionality and Sexuality in Africa: A Critical Assessment of Women’s Experience. The journal can be read on www.irnweb.org. IRN-Africa co-ordinator Sybille Ngo Nyeck is hard at work organizing a conference and regional meeting for IRN-Africa to be held in New York this fall. A call for papers is in the works; check the IRN website for details soon. In addition to facilitating the needs of regional IRN actors, my ongoing project over the past few months has been to identify a technically competent web developer and designer that understands the academic, interactive, and aesthetic needs as well as the mission of www. irnweb.org. Based on feedback from IRN members as well as folks interested in IRN, we know that the site needs to change significantly in order to better engage, and be more useful to, users. We are currently still in the process of reviewing proposals and finding a best fit for IRN. You, the users, are the means and end to our site; please feel free to contact me with your needs and suggestions, or questions, as members/users of IRN!
THE IR N IN HAN O I AN D B E YO N D
Yue, Mary E. John and Samina Choonara organized by Ara Wilson and Yukiko Hanawa. Personal and institutional circumstances prevented both Audrey Yue and Samina Choonara from attending the conference, but their involvement in the planning of the panel was invaluable and we missed their presence in Hanoi. At a moment’s notice, Paul Boyce, in the audience joined the panel to enrich the discussion as a commenter.
(l-R) Yukiko hanawa, ara Wilson, mary e. John in hanoi
By Yukiko Hanawa
from the 1970s on, and their relevance for understanding sexuality. Through ethnographic observations, visual presentation as well as meta-level analysis, Wilson challenged projects like IRN to consider “other circuits of sexual knowledge” by, for instance, using a transnational focus as a way to consider the global conditions for
We had a very active spring at IRN. We had two significant events
this spring. One was our participation at IASSCS conference in Hanoi where we had a panel entitled The Sexual Geography of Postcolonial Asia. Framing the conceptions of sexuality as being affected both by the globalization and by critiques of the nation-state as a unit of analysis or as the ultimate scale for political action, the panel investigated the implications of transnational phenomena for scholarship and advocacy
IRN-LAC (Caribbean) regional board
members including Rosamond King, Angelique Nixon, and Thomas Glave attended the 2009 Caribbean Studies Association conference held in Kingston, Jamaica. This is a historic moment for IRNLAC, not only in terms of having a presence at a renowned international conference, but especially in terms of the longstanding antipathy in Jamaican public discourse towards LGBT people . IRN-LAC (Caribbean) Regional Coordinator Vidyaratha Kissoon is scheduled to present on the IRN and introduce conference-goers to the resources
IRN also organized a workshop at IASSCS Asian Sex/Gender Research Network Workshop. The workshop, led by Wilson and Hanawa, staged a discussion of questions in order to develop the Asia component of the IRN. Participants addressed questions such as: What would be required to form a sustainable network of researchers of Asian sexual diversity? How might internet resources help? What are the key focal themes relevant to such a network? Can we identify major crossborder rubrics in Asian research on sex/ gender diversity?
ara Wilson inaugurates the iRn lecture series with her presentation: “sexual latitudes: queer studies of Global life”
Transnational queer studies...can interpolate desire, affect, knowledge with world history and global powers.
Both events led to long and productive discussions and provided us with new contacts crucial to our project in the near future as well as the long term. Following on these two critical events, Ara wilson, Director of the Program in the Study of Sexualities and Associate Professor of Women’s Studies at Duke University, and a former member of CLAGS Board delivered “Sexual Latitudes: Queer Studies of Global Life,” the inaugural lecture for the IRN Lecture Series. Wilson’s lecture expanded on the themes of her presentation in Hanoi tracking the transnational turn of sexuality studies and queer studies. Grounding her argument in theories of political economy and Marxist geography, Wilson considers the intensification of flows across national borders and regions
*IASSACS (International Association for the Study of Sexuality, Culture,
and Society) Conference in Hanoi
Please see Yukiko Hanawa’s article on the conference and other IRN Asia activities on page 9 for more details.
(l to R) mark Blasius, maria dulce natividad, and eufracio abaya on a bustling hanoi street
around sexuality. A key question invoked by the presentations as well as subsequent discussion was, What is the scale of sexuality? This approach seems particularly fruitful as we renew our effort to vitalize the Asia Pacific region of IRN. As Ara Wilson provided an overview of different arguments for, and frameworks deployed in, decentering US and Europe as the origin of queer sexual possibilities. Mary E. John discussed the recent emergence of new configurations of sexualities in the Indian context, raising questions of sexuality and historicity. As many who have worked in critical geography, anthropology, post-colonial history and feminism are aware,“Asia as region” proposes particular set of challenges as well as opportunities. The conceptualization of the panel was a working process between the invited participants, Ara wilson, Audrey
queer life and queer knowledge production. Such an approach challenges how political economy, which often leaves out affect, intimacy, and most desires is conceived. “Transnational queer studies,” she argues “can interpolate desire, affect, knowledge with world history and global powers.” Her stimulating talk generated a discussion that carried on way past the event time limit till the building closing—we were finally asked by the security to leave the premises! Wilson’s talk will be available on the IRN website later in the summer as part of our Public Seminar series. These two coordinated events, presentations and comment as well as the rich conversations that ensued will be foundational to both the development of Asia region as well as shaping the IRN, along with other regional boards, into envisioning transnational conversations. Many thanks to all of the participants— both as presenters as well as audience in Hanoi and New York—and particular thanks to Ara Wilson for her many roles in shaping the events. Yukiko Hanawa is Senior Lecturer in the Department of East Asian Studies at New York University and Chair IRN-CLAGS Committee
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