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'The Rice Steamer': race, desire and affect in Sydney's gay scene

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While for some Sydney's gay scene is a space of sexual liberation, for Asian-Australians it's also a space of racial segregation. Drawing on ethnographic research in gay venues in Sydney and employing Deleuze and Guattari's notions of 'striated space' and 'territorialisation', this paper explores the ways that racialised sexual desires constitute spatial formations and practices that literally confine gay Asian males into ghettos within gay space. The second part of this paper asks what processes of deterritorialisation are at play in gay spaces that might enable possibilities of connecting bodies not reducible to race. Using an autoethnographic and performative mode of address, I draw on a sexual encounter in a gay dance party in order to chart a set of affective connections, which, while not demolishing race, is nevertheless irreducible to it. In doing so I put forward a model of desire that forces us to rethink what queer space might look like.
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Keywords: Asian-Australian; affect; desire; queer; smooth space

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Sydney, Australia

Publication date: 2008-09-01

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