Brown Boys and Rice QueensSpellbinding Performance in the Asias

Brown Boys and Rice QueensSpellbinding Performance in the Asias

Eng-Beng Lim

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780814760895

Publisher: NYU Press


A transnational study of Asian performance shaped by the homoerotics of orientalism, this book focuses on the relationship between the white man and the native boy. It unpacks this as the central trope for understanding colonial and cultural encounters in twentieth- and twenty-first-century Asia and its diaspora. Using the native boy as a critical guide, the book formulates alternative readings of a traditional Balinese ritual, postcolonial Anglophone theatre in Singapore, and performance art in Asian America. Tracing the transnational formation of the native boy as racial fetish object across the last century, the book follows this figure as he is passed from the hands of the colonial empire to the postcolonial nation-state to neoliberal globalization. Read through such figurations, the traffic in native boys among white men serves as an allegory of an infantilized and emasculated Asia, subordinate before colonial whiteness and modernity. Pushing further, the book addresses the critical paradox of this entrenched relationship that resides even within queer theory itself by formulating critical interventions around “Asian performance”.