Sex Work, Media Networks, and Affective Histories of Chineseness
Columbia University Press 2018
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in Asian American StudiesNew Books in East Asian StudiesNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in Literary StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network August 20, 2018 Christopher Patterson
Lily Wong‘s Transpacific Attachments: Sex Work, Media Networks, and Affective Histories of Chineseness (Columbia University Press, 2018) traces the genealogy of the Chinese sex worker as a figure who manifests throughout the 20th century in moments of anti-Asian racism as well as moments of sexism and nationalism within Chinese communities. Yet for Wong, the tensions and visibility of this figure also allows alternative and alternating forms of solidarity rooted in stepping back from ideologies of nation, race and gender. The sex worker thus allows us to see Chineseness and other forms of collectivity as an affective product, an attachment that mobilizes our emotions and frames how we see others as well as ourselves. By charting representations of the Chinese sex worker through histories of Pacific Crossing, Cold War era ideologies, and contemporary globalization, Wong’s book shows the multiple ways that sex work and prostitution have unsettled forms of collectivity, while providing new spaces for dwelling.
Christopher B. Patterson teaches at the University of British Columbia, Social Justice Institute. He is the author of Transitive Cultures: Anglophone Literature of the Transpacific and Stamped: an anti-travel novel.