Current Research

… Hooligans – Outlaws  – Artifice – Abjects – Gay and Lesbian/ Queer/ Tongzhi/ Comrades – Translation and Misrepresentation– Politics of/ against inclusion – Marriage – Parenthood – Eldercare – Legal Consciousness – Affects …

My current Ph.D. project is a legal-anthropological inquiry into how Chinese same-sex-oriented people deal with the socio-legal norms that push them to get married, have children and being filial in a heterosexual family. It is the first docotrial thesis in English that covers comprehensively the Chinese laws that influence on same-sex-oriented people’s familial and social life. I use both legal doctrinal and ethnographic approaches in this research.

During my 8-month fieldwork in several locations in China, I took a close look at various subjects or relationships: Tongqis (gay men’s straight wives), Xinghun (cooperative marriage between a lesbian and a gay man), PLAGs (parents of out lesbians and gay men), rural or lower-class urban same-sex life partners who are not identified with LGBTQ, rainbow families via assisted reproductive technology, male-to-male sex workers, LGBT rights activists… Seemingly scattered, such a wide range of matters of concern are nevertheless woven into one another, co-constructing the various sources of legalities of homosexuality in contemporary China. In particular, I would like to find out:

  • How do the Chinese laws regulate, protect, condemn or condone same-sex desires and relationships? Is there any historical and geopolitical specificity?
  • How do my respondents obey, utilize, defy or circumvent the law in their daily life, when facing the hetero-patriarchal expectations of marriage, parentage and stable elder life?
  • In such interactive processes, how are the legal meanings of same-sex desires and relationships re-negotiated?

In my research, I mainly rely on the legal consciousness theory. In their renowned book The Common Place of Law, Ewick and Silbey have identified three schemas of ordinary people’s legal consciousness: ‘before’ (obeying or bowing to) the law, ‘with’ (utilizing or playing with) the law, and ‘against’ (avoiding or resisting) the law. I use these schemas organically to analyze the various life paths of my respondents; I also try to develop this socio-legal theory by bridging it with feminist, queer and post-colonial theories.