ABSTRACT

This collection of essays began from a symposium on ‘Gender and Modernity in the Asia-Pacific’ hosted by the Gender and Modernity Research Group at the University of Sydney.1 Our aim for that symposium was to bring together in Australia researchers working on issues in and around the Asia-Pacific region in Cultural Studies, and related fields, in order to think about how the intersection of the terms gender and modernity might provide a shared basis for exploring relations between that region’s disparate cultural locations, practices and identities. In particular, working together from Sydney with one of us also based in Hong Kong, we were interested in how this conceptual intersection affords a view of an ‘Asia-Pacific’ region in which Australia is vitally involved and not just an institutional platform for analysis from the geopolitical border of that region. It also seemed to us that focusing on the Asia-Pacific from a Cultural Studies point of view might offer something important to Western English-language scholarship on gender and modernity. Such scholarship tends to be dominated by historical analysis in which modernity is a long view of now irreversible change and discussions of the gender of modernity belong to historical analysis of changes wrought in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and/or by a spatializing EuroAmerican field synchronically centred on the pre-eminent importance of transAtlantic exchanges. In this context, a conjunction of ‘gender and modernity’ and ‘the Asia-Pacific’ foregrounds transnational currents and cross-cultural dialogues that are not only historical but also insistently present tense.