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The figure of the Chinese sex worker, who provokes both disdain and desire, has become a trope for both Asian American sexuality and Asian modernity. Lingering in the cultural imagination, sex workers link sexual and cultural marginality, and their tales clarify the boundaries of citizenship, nationalism, and internationalism. Based on her new book, Transpacific Attachments, Lily Wong will discuss the mobility and mobilization of the sex worker figure through transpacific media networks, stressing the intersectional politics of racial, sexual, and class structures. While imaginations of a global community have long been mobilized through romantic, erotic, and gendered representations, Wong emphasizes the significant role sex work plays in the constant restructuring of social relations.
Lily Wong is an Associate Professor in the departments of Literature (LIT) and Critical Race Gender and Culture Studies (CRGC) at American University. Her research focuses on the politics of affect/emotion, gender/sexuality, racial capitalism, minor-transnational solidarity movements, as well as media formations of transpacific Chinese, Sinophone, and Asian American communities. She is one of the founding board members of the Society of Sinophone Studies (SSS). Her work can be found in journals including American Quarterly, Journal of Chinese Cinemas, Asian Cinema, Asian American Literary Review, Pacific Affairs, and China Review International, among others. She has published book chapters in World Cinema and the Visual Arts (2012), Queer Sinophone Cultures (2013), Divided Lenses: War and Film Memory in Asia (2016), and Keywords in Queer Sinophone Studies (2020). She is the author of the book "Transpacific Attachments: Sex Work, Media Networks, and Affective Histories of Chineseness" (Columbia University Press, 2018).
The Exploring Social Justice Series, a program co-sponsored by the American University Library, the Center for Diversity & Inclusion, and the Kay Spiritual Life Center, brings to campus exemplary leaders from diverse backgrounds who have advocated for various human rights and social justice issues.