I had the privilege of organizing a panel for the upcoming American Academy of Religion (AAR) meeting in Chicago, IL. It is sponsored by the Asian North American Religion, Culture, and Society (ANARCS) Group and will feature a very diverse panel of scholars speaking about masculinities and gender issues in “conservative” Asian American and Asian Canadian communities. Here is our abstract:
This panel session explores the “conservatism” of certain Asian North American religious communities, particularly evangelical and fundamentalist Christian ones, around gender issues. By gender “conservatism,” we refer to attempts to reinforce heteronormative, patriarchal practices both within Asian North American religious communities and without in civil society.
Our panelists will discuss 1) the usage of evangelicalism by Korean American men to restore a sense of empowerment, 2) the appropriation of Asian American tropes of mixed-martial arts and “linsanity” (following the recent stardom of Jeremy Lin) by conservative evangelicals at large to reconstitute masculinities, 3) the experience of a trans-male in a Korean American Christian community in New York, 4) the activism of conservative Asian Americans in opposing LGBTQI rights in America, and 5) the exploration of conservative Asian North American religious groups in a Canadian context who oppose sexual equality despite its federal legal status. A feminist ethicist will respond.
The panel will be chaired by Michael Sepidoza Campos (GTU) and will be responded to by Grace Yia-Hei Kao (Claremont School of Theology). The panelists themselves come from very diverse backgrounds and espouse fairly different academic approaches; they are: Mark Chung Hearn (Azusa Pacific University), Steve B. Hu (UC Santa Barbara), Sung Won Park (Union Theological Seminary), Patrick S. Cheng (Episcopal Divinity School), and myself. Our aim in assembling this very diverse set of voices is to encourage conversation on a topic that has been seldom discussed in Asian North American religious studies, not to mention academic discussion more generally.
I will be speaking on the intersection of Asian Canadian studies and the need to contextualize the traditional sexuality activism of Cantonese Protestants in Vancouver, British Columbia, within their engagements with Canadian civil society. My take on the panel is that these issues require a fair, accurate, and scholarly interpretation from the academy and are not served well by caricatures, particularly as stereotyping often leads to the very forms of socially unjust orientalizing racism that are increasingly unacceptable in our civil society.
The panel will take place Sunday, 18 November 2012, from 9 AM to 11:30 AM and all those registered for the AAR meeting are warmly invited to join in what promises to be an exciting conversation.
On Monday, 19 November 2012, I will also be presiding over another ANARCS panel entitled “Boundary Crossings: New Directions in Asian American Theologies.” This panel will feature Barbara Yuki Schwartz (Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary), Simon Joseph Kierulf (Union Presbyterian Seminary), Yeon Yeon Hwang (Graduate Theological Union), and Ren Ito (University of Toronto), and the respondent will be Nami Kim (Spellman College). The panel will be held from 1-3 PM, and it will be followed by the ANARCS Business Meeting.