This book analyses queer cultural production in contemporary China to map the broad social transformations in gender, sexuality and desire. It examines queer literature and visual cultures in China’s post-Mao and postsocialist era to show how these diverse cultural forms and practices not only function as context-specific and culturally sensitive forms of social activism but also produce distinct types of gender and sexual subjectivities unique to China’s postsocialist conditions.

From poetry to papercutting art, from ‘comrade/gay literature’ to girls’ love fan fiction, from lesbian films to activist documentaries, and from a drag show in Shanghai to a public performance of a same-sex wedding in Beijing, the book reveals a queer China in all its ideological complexity and creative energy. Empirically rich and methodologically eclectic, Queer China skilfully weaves together historical and archival research, textual and discourse analysis, along with interviews and ethnography.

Breaking new ground and bringing a non-Western perspective to the fore, this transdisciplinary work contributes to multiple academic fields including literary and cultural studies, media and communication studies, film and screen studies, contemporary art, theatre and performance studies, gender and sexuality studies, China/Asia and Global South studies, cultural history and cultural geography, political theory and the study of social movements.

chapter |25 pages


Queer China, postsocialist metamorphosis

part Part I|40 pages

Queer emergence

chapter 1|17 pages

Imagining modernity

The (re-)emergence of homosexuality

chapter 2|21 pages

Women Fifty Minutes

In search of queer women’s spaces

part Part II|40 pages

Queer becoming

chapter 3|13 pages

Beijing Story

Becoming gay in postsocialist China

chapter 4|25 pages

Pink Affairs

Narrating desire in a girls’ love fan fiction

part Part III|30 pages

Queer urban space

chapter 5|16 pages

‘New Beijing, new marriage’

Performing a same-sex wedding in central Beijing

chapter 6|12 pages

The forgotten critical realism

Reification of desire in Mu Cao’s poetry

part Part IV|45 pages

Queer migration

chapter 7|17 pages

‘Shanghai is burning’

Becoming trans in a global city

chapter 8|24 pages

Life of a butterfly

Subjectivation and autonomy in Xiyadie’s papercutting art

chapter |2 pages