Anne Anlin Cheng: Ornamentalism
Tues 5 Feb, 7 – 9pm
SPACE Mare St
Free & open to all
Led by Justin Seng
I want to think through, rather than shy away from, that intractable intimacy between being a person and being a thing. Let us then build a different historiography of raced bodies: one constructed through fabrics, ornaments, and “skins” that never enjoyed the fantasy of organicity; one populated by non-subjects who endure as ornamental appendages. Let us substitute ornament for flesh as the germinal matter for the making of racialized gender. Let us, in short, formulate a feminist theory of and for the yellow woman. Anne Anlin Cheng
This meeting of the Feminist Duration Reading Group looks at Anne Anlin Cheng’s 2018 essay Ornamentalism: A Feminist Theory for the Yellow Woman to explore the emergence and construction of East Asian femininity through and as ornament. The session will be led by FDRG Working Group member Justin Seng.
Drawing upon past conceptualisations of racial embodiment, Cheng investigates the material and synthetic affinities that are invoked in the human ontology of the East Asian woman — one indebted to notions of commodity, artifice and objectness. Ornamentalism provides a necessary contribution towards a field of Asiatic feminism that is often elided or absent in feminist discourses, and proposes new modes of articulating and tackling well-rehearsed problems of racial and sexual commodification and objectification. By exploring these alternative technologies of personhood and their mechanisms, ornamentalism offers a framework for interrogating notions of racialised flesh and the limits of the politics of personhood.
Together we will read:
Please bring copies with you. No advance reading is required as we will read together, out loud, on the night.