Autonomy and the Other Woman: Queer Active Agency and Postcolonial Expectations

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

In “Gendering of Chinoiserie in Deconstructing Zoe” (2018) Fong explores the means and implications of embodying a gendered and racialized identity in Deconstructing Zoe, her documentary film about transgender actor Zoe / Chowee Leow. In the documentary, Fong argues, Zoe’s self-aware performance as a Chinese Malay trans woman is evidence of a queer active agency. This chapter now aims to consider the ambiguous nature of Zoe’s performance in neo-liberal times, in terms of a pro-colonial discourse, as both subversive and conformist. Zoe’s identity, as performed and re-performed in the documentary’s autoethnographic narrative and narrational spaces, transgresses postcolonial values and embraces a queered, physical, colonial discourse. With reference to the subversive yet celebrated Chilean writer and performer, Pedro Lemebel, Zoe is seen as ‘unapologetic’ for her own constructed identity, which incorporates the femininised aspects of the East Asian that postcolonialism rejects. Zoe’s personal autonomy is regarded through the gendered perspective of Said’s Orientalism, as framed by Bell and Loretoni in their interrogation of ‘western’ constructions of the ‘Other Woman’ of the ‘East.’ Zoe’s agency is argued as having a deconstructing function towards essentialist, postcolonial expectations of Chinese Malay identity in Britain.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCreative Practice Research in the Age of Neoliberal Hopelessness
EditorsAgnieska Piotrowska
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Chapter7
ISBN (Print)9781474463560
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Mar 2020

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Keywords

  • Documentary
  • Ethnography
  • Transgender
  • Neoliberalism
  • Identity
  • Ethnicity
  • Postcolonial
  • Pro-colonial
  • Orientalism
  • Racial stereotypes

Cite this

Barrett, J., & FONG-COWN, ROSA. (Accepted/In press). Autonomy and the Other Woman: Queer Active Agency and Postcolonial Expectations. In A. Piotrowska (Ed.), Creative Practice Research in the Age of Neoliberal Hopelessness Edinburgh University Press.