Handout, D.C.

Queer Studies Symposium, Keyword Roundtable, University of Maryland, College Park, 18 April 2008 KEYWORD: DUBBING CULTURE Katie King, Women's Studies, University of Maryland, College Park/Email: katking@umd.edu Home Page: http://www.womensstudies.umd.edu/wmstfac/kking/
"Dubbing Culture.... We now have two “problems” centering on mass media. First problem: how do Indonesians come to see themselves as gay or lesbi through the fragmentary reception of mass mediated messages? Second problem: why would the question of dubbing foreign television shows into the Indonesian language provoke one of the greatest constitutional crises in Indonesiaʼs history? Both of these problems raise issues of translation and authenticity in an already-globalized, mass-mediated world. I suggest that we might address the first problem through the second. In effect, we can “dub” these two sets of social facts together, and in doing so discover striking convergences and unexpected resonances."

Boellstorff, T. (2003). "Dubbing culture: Indonesian gay and lesbi subjectivities and ethnography in an already globalized world." American Ethnologist, 30(2), 225-242.

A single month in 1996 Indonesia sees, first, a legislative bill requiring all television to be dubbed into Indonesian – a created language for national identity – followed by an unprecedented Presidential intervention forbidding such dubbing. "What made the ability of Sharon Stone or Tom Cruise to 'speak Indonesian' no longer a welcome opportunity to foster linguistic competency but, rather, a sinister force threatening the good citizen's ability to differentiate self from Other?" (Boellstorff 2003) "Dubbing culture" is a terminological node that networks a set of issues around media, subject formation, academic practices, and queer transdisciplinarities. It works with but alters a postcolonial analysis of print culture amid a range of writing technologies (Anderson 1983). Boellstorff uses dubbing as both literality and metaphor to work out a "postreflexivity" – useful to anthropology and queer studies. Scales of analysis work out from those ethnolocalized and single subject-understood, to the national linguistic and political, to ranges of subject positions offered and co-created in terms transnational and transdisciplinary. "Indonesians 'come to' lesbi and gay subjectivity through these entanglements with mass media; their constructive agency, and the lesbi and gay subject positions themselves, are constructed through the encounter. This is not a solely individual process.... In other words, lesbi and gay Indonesians 'dub' ostensibly 'Western' sexuality subjectivities. Like a dub, the fusion remains a juxtaposition; the seams show. 'Speech' and 'gesture' never perfectly match; being lesbi or gay and being Indonesian never perfectly match. For lesbian and gay Indonesians as in 'dubbing culture' more generally, this tension is irresolvable; there is no 'real' version underneath, where everything fits...in dubbing one is not invested in the originary but, rather, in the awkward fusion...dubbing rejoices in the good-enough and the forever incomplete." With Boellstorff I see such "dubbing culture" as also a way to describe ethnographic and scholarly practice today under conditions of globalization. I see scholarly authoring as a collective and distributed necessity, painfully limited in agency and certainly not located at the level of the individual. It is an authoring which has to address dynamically diverging and multiple audiences in a historically specific set of issues under global academic restructuring (Slaughter & Rhoades 2004); and it is networked among transnational activisms, capital, migration, economies and culture industries. None of us get to be outside these. Flexible knowledges, transdisciplinarities, writing technologies, all plunge us into uncertainties, risk, collusion and collaboration; conditions that – as with these responsibilities to multiple audiences from painfully limited authorships – we do not control, and in which we are elements in emergent reorganizations of knowledge economies. Scoping and scaling keeps relocating the agencies we do have as we discover that agency and control are rarely at the same scale of analysis or action. In queer transdisciplinarities we labor to participate in a universe in which we are only some of the beings, objects, devices, things, processes and trial and error reassemblages now participating in self-organizing "emergence." Consciousness at the levels of infrastructure, variation, inclusion, undecideability, means we are "bits" of such transdisciplinizing "consciousness," not a Leonardo-like "Man" at its center. References: • Anderson, B. R. (1983). Imagined communities: reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. London: Verso. • Berry, C., Martin, F., & Yue, A. (Eds.). (2003). Mobile cultures: new media in queer Asia. Durham & London: Duke. • Boellstorff, T. (2003). "Dubbing culture: Indonesian gay and lesbi subjectivities and ethnography in an already globalized world." American Ethnologist, 30(2), 225-242. • King, K. (2008). Networked Reenactments: how television, museums, and universities tried to find audiences in the nineties. Paper presented to the Washington Area Group for Print Culture Studies, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., 7 March 2008; Website: http://netreen.blogspot.com/. • Slaughter, S., & Rhoades, G. (2004). Academic Capitalism and the New Economy: Markets, State, and Higher Education. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins.

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