Sexing up the international

Obendorf, Simon Benjamin (2006) Sexing up the international. PhD thesis, University of Melbourne.

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Abstract

This thesis takes sexuality as its subject matter and uses a methodology informed by postcolonial studies to explore new possibilities for thinking about the international, its construction, and its contemporary politics. I argue that postcolonial readings of sexuality can impel us to rethink the meanings and politics of international theory and to challenge notions that have come to appear fixed and unchanging. The thesis canvasses how such an intervention might occur – calling especially for a focus on the local and the everyday – and considers both the utility and the limits of the contributions sexuality might make to a rethinking of international theory. My arguments are made with reference to a series of specific examples from contemporary East and Southeast Asia: the nationalistically imbued gendered and sexed figures of the national serviceman and the Singapore Girl in Singapore; the political and social repercussions of the trial of former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim on charges of sodomy; newly emerging homosexual identities in Hong Kong; and the connections between sexuality and disease that inform the Thai response to HIV/AIDS. These case studies exemplify some of the ways in which sexuality can work to recast traditional scholarly understandings of the international. They also illuminate a series of aspects that shape the encounter between sexuality and the international, encompassing issues of nationalism, globalization, metaphor, spatiality and knowledge politics. Through my analysis of these issues, I argue for a broadening out of the source materials that inform knowledge about the international and the pursuit of alternative modes of reading processes of international change and exchange. I contend that scholarship of the international needs to pay more attention to instances where the borders separating everyday, national and international spaces break down, and where we might detect new forms of knowledge about the nature, politics and functioning of the international realm.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:This thesis takes sexuality as its subject matter and uses a methodology informed by postcolonial studies to explore new possibilities for thinking about the international, its construction, and its contemporary politics. I argue that postcolonial readings of sexuality can impel us to rethink the meanings and politics of international theory and to challenge notions that have come to appear fixed and unchanging. The thesis canvasses how such an intervention might occur – calling especially for a focus on the local and the everyday – and considers both the utility and the limits of the contributions sexuality might make to a rethinking of international theory. My arguments are made with reference to a series of specific examples from contemporary East and Southeast Asia: the nationalistically imbued gendered and sexed figures of the national serviceman and the Singapore Girl in Singapore; the political and social repercussions of the trial of former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim on charges of sodomy; newly emerging homosexual identities in Hong Kong; and the connections between sexuality and disease that inform the Thai response to HIV/AIDS. These case studies exemplify some of the ways in which sexuality can work to recast traditional scholarly understandings of the international. They also illuminate a series of aspects that shape the encounter between sexuality and the international, encompassing issues of nationalism, globalization, metaphor, spatiality and knowledge politics. Through my analysis of these issues, I argue for a broadening out of the source materials that inform knowledge about the international and the pursuit of alternative modes of reading processes of international change and exchange. I contend that scholarship of the international needs to pay more attention to instances where the borders separating everyday, national and international spaces break down, and where we might detect new forms of knowledge about the nature, politics and functioning of the international realm.
Keywords:sexuality, Postcolonial, postcolonialism, homosexuality, international relations, international theory, HIV, AIDS, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia
Subjects:L Social studies > L400 Social Policy
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Social & Political Sciences
ID Code:1255
Deposited By: Jill Partridge
Deposited On:01 Oct 2007
Last Modified:28 Aug 2014 11:48

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