An Anthropology of the Weekend: Recreation and Relatedness in Gay and Lesbian Beijing

Schroeder, III, William Frederick, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia
Shepherd, John R., Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia
McKinnon, Susan, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia
Marshall, Wende

This dissertation explores recreational lesbian and gay community - bui|ding in 21stcentury Beijing. The analysis reveals the importance of play in effecting social and cultural change and challenges the centrality of deterministic macro - frameworks like power and resistance, governmentality, and po|itica| - economy that are typically employed in the study of China. In Beijing, rights - based activism, which western scholars often perceive as the model for lesbian and gay empowerment, provides only a narrow scope through which to envision a queer future. Like most oftheir fellow citizens, gay and lesbian Beijingers avoid confrontational or overtly politicized action out of respect for their parents and fear of government repression. Instead, they pursue common interests in group activities such as practicing yoga, singing karaoke, going rollerskating, or convening discussion salons, organized through a widespread network of gay and lesbian recreational clubs. These organizations not only encourage new forms of relatedness, they also configure an intermediary kind ofcivil society that mitigates state and family pressures. At the same time, globally circulating media and the internet have expanded the space in which queer community can be imagined as well as the grounds on which it can be staked. In accounting for the uses of this globalized imaginary in queer Beijing, this study reassesses anthropological approaches to the global and the local.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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