Document Type

Book Chapter


What would it mean to think about sexuality in a transnational frame? Sexuality is often thought to be the most private and personal matter, but research in feminist theory, gender studies, and queer studies has demonstrated that sexual practices, sexual identities, sexualities and sexual relationships are always embedded in a social and cultural context. Sexuality has been crucial to the formation of modern nation-states. The family-based on the heterosexual bond between a monogamous couple-is basic to the management of populations. The family is an important site for the formation of nationalist identities, and the family provides a crucial link in the relationship between individual and state. State machineries-the legal system, the police force, the welfare and education systems-are involved in promoting 'desirable' forms of sexuality and discouraging 'undesirable' forms, ideologies which are sometimes reinforced and sometimes challenged by artistic works. If the relationship between sexuality and nation has come to be accepted, it is less obvious how we might think about sexuality in a transnational context.3 In this chapter I will suggest some ways of thinking about sexuality in a transnational context in the age of economic globalisation. For reasons of my own location, academic history, and linguistic expertise, in this case 'transnational' means thinking about Australia and Japan from a perspective which crosses national borders. But first let us consider what it means to study 'Japan' and 'Australia' in a transnational frame.