Marcello Francioni: Masculinities and Sexuality in Contemporary Urban Japan (LGBT History Month Miniseries 2018)

In this final episode of The Provocateur‘s miniseries for LGBT History Month 2018, we move the spotlight to contemporary Japan, its attitudes to homosexuality and the ways in which sexuality and gender play out in its gay bar industry. Japan has historically had few laws criminalizing homosexual sex, though a ban on anal sodomy was briefly enforced between 1872 and 1880. In the postwar period, as Japan entered its economic miracle, the leisure industry gained greater prominence and with it came the emergence of the first gay bars in the 1950s and 1960s. Just as the Western world experienced the sexual revolution in the latter half of the twentieth century, Japan’s gay bar subculture can also arguably be seen as a marker of liberalizing attitudes to sexuality. At the same time, it combines Western-style norms of consumerism with a distinctly Japanese take on notions of leisure and service.

Today on The Provocateur I talk to Marcello Francioni, a PhD student in the department of anthropology and sociology at SOAS, University of London, to discuss masculinities and sexuality in contemporary urban Japan. We first talk about the norms of the service industry and what ‘service’ means in Japan, before going on to discuss the evolution of Marcello’s research, the history of homosexuality in Japan and the relationship between language and gender in Tokyo’s gay bars.

You can listen to the podcast here: 

Further Reading:

Allison, A. (1994) Nightwork: Sexuality, Pleasure, and Corporate Masculinity in a Tokyo Hostess Club. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Christensen, P. (2014) Japan, Alcoholism, and masculinity: suffering sobriety in Tokyo. Lexington Books.

Graeber, D. (2001) Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Hochschild, A. R. (2012) The managed heart. Commercialization of human feeling. University of California Press.

Ishida, H. (2006) ‘Interactive Practices in Shinjuku Ni-Chōme’s Male Homosexual Bars,’ Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context 12: 1–21.

Livia, A. and K. Hall (1997) Queerly Phrased: Language, Gender, and Sexuality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Mackintosh, J. D. (2009) Homosexuality and Manliness in Postwar Japan. New York: Routledge.

Maree, C. (2013) Onee-Kotoba. Tokyo: Seidosha.

Pflugfelder, G. M. (1999) Cartographies of Desire: Male-Male Sexuality in Japanese Discourse, 1600-1950. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Robertson, James, and N. Suzuki, eds. (2005) Men and Masculinities in Contemporary Japan: Dislocating the Salaryman Doxa. Routledge.

Singleton, J. (1998) Learning in likely places. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Tim R. Johnston: LGBT Older Adults and Ageing in the United States (LGBT History Month Miniseries 2018)

In this third installment of our miniseries for LGBT History Month 2018 we turn to the issues confronted by LGBT older adults and ageing. At the moment in the United States, there are around 2.7 million LGBT people over the age of 50 and about 1.1 million over the age of 65. These numbers are likely to double by the year 2050 and as developed countries around the world face up to the challenge of an ageing population over the next few decades, the particular problems associated with LGBT ageing will come more sharply into focus.

Today on The Provocateur I talk to Tim R. Johnston, Director of National Projects at SAGE USA, to discuss LGBT older adults and ageing in the United States. We talk about what makes LGBT older populations particularly vulnerable compared with their non-LGBT counterparts, the specific needs of transgender and bisexual older adults and how LGBT family dynamics and support structures differ from non-LGBT ones. We also touch on ageism, racism and disability issues in the LGBT community and how those might impact on ageing. Finally we look to the future and consider how the experience of Millennial LGBT ageing might be distinct from the experiences of the Greatest Generation and Baby Boomers.

You can listen to the podcast here: 

Further Reading:

Theo Gordon: Sex and Violence in the Art of the American AIDS Crisis (LGBT History Month Miniseries 2018)

In the second episode of our miniseries for LGBT History Month 2018 we turn our attention to the HIV/AIDS pandemic and its artistic legacies. The AIDS outbreak in the 1970s and 1980s is often described as a moment of crisis and since we are arguably living through a moment of crisis in contemporary politics, the AIDS pandemic can be a useful way into thinking about the idea of ‘crisis’ and how art can respond to moments of political crisis. Moreover, if we want to take the idea of LGBT history seriously, we have to acknowledge the significance of HIV/AIDS in this history (although of course LGBT people were not the only ones affected by the disease).

Today on The Provocateur I talk to Theo Gordon, who has just finished his PhD at the Courtauld Institute of Art, to discuss sex and violence in the art of the American AIDS crisis. We begin by the history of the AIDS pandemic and how the crisis is one of sexuality and aggression, before looking at the invisibility of women with AIDS and the significance of AIDS to cultural theory in the early 1990s. Towards the end of the programme we think about the recent upsurge of interest in the AIDS movement since 2010 and the relationship between siblinghood and AIDS activism/politics.

You can listen to the podcast here: 

Further Reading:

ACT UP/NY Women & AIDS Book Group (1990) Women, AIDS & Activism, 2nd edn. Boston: South End Press.

Finklestein, A. (2017) After Silence: A History of AIDS Through Its Images. Oakland: University of California Press.

Schulman, S. and J. Hubbard (n.d.) The ACT UP Oral History Project (online).

White, E. (1997) The Farewell Symphony. London: Chatto & Windus.

Nick Mayhew: Russia’s Queer History (LGBT History Month Miniseries 2018)

In the first episode of The Provocateur‘s miniseries for LGBT History Month 2018, we travel to Russia to explore the country’s hidden history of sexuality. In contemporary Russia, the church and state have conspired to suggest that LGBT identities are not part of Russia’s supposedly ‘traditional’ culture. At best, they are seen as subversive and non-traditional; at worst, they are perceived as damaging Western imports, where progressive views on homosexuality are a form of moral neo-imperialism. These attitudes are most clearly expressed in the 2014 law forbidding the promotion of ‘gay propaganda’. However, new research is challenging the ‘otherness’ of Russian homosexuality, arguing that an undercurrent of same-sex desire has long been embedded in Russian culture.

To discuss the history of sexuality in medieval Russia, I’m joined today by Nick Mayhew, who has just finished his PhD in Slavonic Studies at the University of Cambridge. We open by talking about Nick’s initial interest in the subject, before moving on to discuss the kinds of same-sex relationships and identities that existed in pre-modern Russia and the medieval period in particular. We also touch on the difficulties Nick has faced in doing this kind of research in a society rife with state-sponsored homophobia.

You can listen to the podcast here: 

Jason Rudy: Imagined Homelands: Australian Poetry in the 19th Century

Australia is a vast and diverse country, with a culture to match, but its literature has traditionally been underrepresented in academic institutions and it remains marginal to the literary canon. When Australian literature is studied, it typically tends to date from the mid-20th century onwards, not from before the country’s federation in 1901. However, in order to get a fuller sense of the modern Australian condition, it may be valuable – or indeed necessary – to turn to the culture of the pre-federation era, such as early Australian poetry. In the writings of Eliza Hamilton Dunlop, Henry Kendall and their contemporaries, we can trace themes which continue to preoccupy Australian writers and artists today, such as the tension between civilisation and wilderness, the horrors of colonialism and the dispossession of Indigenous peoples, and the search for a uniquely Australian mode of cultural expression.

This week, The Provocateur is joined by Jason Rudy, associate professor of English at the University of Maryland, College Park, to discuss the history of Australian poetry in the 19th century. We pick up some of the themes of his book Imagined Homelands, discuss a selection of the major writers of the pre-federation period and uncover what 19th-century Australian literature can offer to readers of contemporary writing.

You can listen to the podcast here: 

Further Reading:

Primary texts:

Eliza Hamilton Dunlop, “The Aboriginal Woman

Adam Lindsay Gordon, “From the Wreck

Charles Harpur, various poems

Henry Kendall, “The Wail in the Native Oak

Henry Lawson, various poems

Banjo Paterson, various poems

Secondary reading:

Ackland, M. (1994) That Shining Band: A Study of Australian Colonial Verse Tradition. Brisbane: University of Queensland Press.

Belich, J. (2009) Replenishing the Earth: The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Anglo-World, 1783-1939. Oxford: Oxford University Press.  

Huggan, G. (2007) Australian Literature: Postcolonialism, Racism, Transnationalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

McQueen, H. (1976) A New Britannia: An argument concerning the social origins of Australian radicalism and nationalism, rev. ed. Sydney and Melbourne: Penguin.

Rudy, J. R. (2017) Imagined Homelands: British Poetry in the Colonies. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Wright, J. (1965) Preoccupations in Australian Poetry. Oxford: Oxford University Press.