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Not Just Another Inquiry for Scholarly Resources

women's studies community needs to challenge colonialist "research" projects

Forum: WMST-L
Date: 06/06/2012

On Jun 1, 2012, at 6:46 PM, TRAVIS,TRYSH A wrote:

List Members: I am writing to ask for suggestions/models I can pass on to an undergraduate student who wants to investigate the construction of sexuality through contemporary popular visual images. Specifically, she is interested in the way young Chinese understand sexuality and the way their popular culture constructs it-- and she happens to be traveling in China this summer. But she doesn't read or speak Mandarin, alas. So she needs to base her research on sources that are primarily visual-- like advertisements, fashion spreads, store displays, etc.

I am looking for examples of scholarship that use such a methodology that I can offer her as models; article-length works would be best. We have built a decent bibliography of theoretical readings (like John Berger's *Ways of Seeing*) but I do not have many clear, concise models of this sort of scholarship to put in front of her. Significantly, the student does not have experience or training in the close reading of popular culture texts, so she needs to see how people introduce, work with, and draw conclusions from visual evidence.

Hello list,

I'm sorry, but I thought to myself, surely *someone* will say something about this, so I chose not to respond so as to not burn any more bridges here than I need to, but nobody has.

Am I the only person here who thinks it's a bad idea for an American student with little knowledge of Chinese language, culture, or methodology for cultural analysis for that matter to be "investigat[ing] the construction of sexuality through contemporary popular visual images" among young Chinese people, simply because she "happens to be traveling in China this summer"? I'm shocked that we are treating this like any other inquiry, offering resources and suggestions, rather than questioning the troubling colonialist premise of the proposed "investigation" itself.


Emi Koyama