New Article in Feminist Studies by Prof. Sealing Cheng

Prof. Sealing Cheng has published a new article titled “Choreography of Masculinity: The Pursuit of Marriage by African Men in Forced Displacement in Hong Kong” in Feminist Studies.

An excerpt from the Preface of this issue:

The second essay, Sealing Cheng’s “Choreography of Masculinity: The Pursuit of Marriage by African Men in Forced Displacement in Hong Kong,” examines the changes in embodied performances of masculinity in Hong Kong by asylum seekers from various African nations in the context of the vulnerability and marginalization of forced displacement. Hong Kong is currently a favored destination for asylum seekers, owing to a dramatic global increase in refugees, tightened borders in the United States and Europe, and Hong Kong’s visa-free entry policy. Cheng situates the intimate encounters of African asylum-seeking men and Chinese women in Hong Kong within two broader contexts: increased encounters between China and Africa and Hong Kong’s contested autonomy and identity following its 1997 return to China. Most migrant men experience a profound sense of emasculation as they struggle against the exclusionary forces of what Cheng calls the “racial-border regime.” Because these men tend to embrace idealized roles of husband, father, and breadwinner, many experience an “existential dislocation” in Hong Kong that manifests as unending dependence and uncertainty. Drawing on six years of fieldwork, Cheng adopts feminist approaches to masculinity and dance theories of choreography to understand asylum-seeking men’s agentive engagements with masculinity. Choreography, Cheng argues, is the creative act of setting the conditions for things to happen. Heteronormative marriage to a local woman is one of the few avenues these men have to pursue a legal existence in Hong Kong, including a work permit. Marriage to African men is not necessarily seen by Hong Kong women or their families as degrading in itself. Rather, the “asylum seeker” status and its associated socioeconomic disenfranchisement set in motion a negative chain reaction of perceptions about African men that renders such marriages objectionable and morally suspicious. Still, asylum-seeking men pursuing intimate relationships and marriages with local women are not only reclaiming their masculinity but also subverting the regulation of the heteronormative racial-border regime, crafting one transgressive mode of future-making in their highly circumscribed lives.

Rofel, Lisa and Megan Sweeney. 2021. “Global Intimacies: China and/in the Global South.” Feminist Studies 47(2):466–68.

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