Faculty Colloquium Series: Kazuko Suzuki

“At the Crossroad of Fantasy and Reality: Yaoi and Post-Male Feminism in Contemporary Japan”

Tuesday, 28 March 2017, 4-5 p.m.
Location: 311 Glasscock  Building
The paper is available to members of the Center’s listserv, or by contacting the Glasscock Center by phone at (979) 845-8328 or by e-mail at glasscock@tamu.edu.

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Kazuko Suzuki 
| Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, 2016-17 Glasscock Faculty Research Fellow, Texas A&M University

Dr. Kazuko Suzuki specializes in International Migration, Race and Ethnic Relations (both U.S. domestic and international comparisons), Gender and Sexuality, and East Asian (Japanese) Studies. She has fieldwork experience in Japan and Russia, as well as in the United States. She is interested in “invisible” social oppression against minority groups such as immigrants, racial minorities, and women in Asia. Her research interests include: modes of incorporation and immigrant adaptation from an international comparative perspective; historical and regional analysis of ‘race’ beyond the Western paradigm, as well as cross-disciplinary analysis of ‘race’; human trafficking in women to the U.S. and Japan; and gender and sexuality in Japanese popular culture media, in particular Yaoi/BL. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Texas A&M University and is an affiliated faculty member in the Race and Ethnic Studies Institute and the Asian Studies Program.

BL (Boys Love), more widely known as Yaoi outside Japan, is a category of media that focuses on male-male erotic and/or pornographic romance, originally created by and for heterosexual Japanese women at the end of 1970s. By analyzing texts and illustrations of over 800 popular BL novels and examiningvarious types of interviews with professional BL writers, industry people, and fans, this book-length project attempts to unveil the functions and contributions of Yaoi for Japanese women in relation to the development of feminism. In this draft paper, I demonstrate how professional BL writers consciously/unconsciously breach heteronormative gender codes to decenter the normalcy of dualistic gender. Adopting Erving Goffman’s concept of gender display and Judith Butler’s theory of performativity, the paper contends that these professional BL writers performatively subvert the normative gender ideology even when their actions are not willful, by conspiring with the BL industry to reproduce highly-formalized heteronormative templates and binary gender rules, but also by consciously (and unconsciously) breaching them in their creative processes. Through these (feminist) methods employed by BL writers, this studyshows that there is hope in their critique of heteronormative gender roles in Japanese society.

The Faculty Colloquium offers faculty an opportunity to discuss a work-in-progress with colleagues from different disciplines. By long-standing practice, colloquium presenters provide a draft of their current research, which is made available to members of the Glasscock Center listserv. Each colloquium begins with the presenter’s short (10-15 minute) exposition of the project, after which the floor is open for comments and queries. The format is by design informal, conversational, and interdisciplinary.

The Glasscock Center extends a warm invitation to faculty and students to join in a discussion of Professor Seipp’s work-in-progress. The paper is available to members of the Center’s listserv, or by contacting the Glasscock Center by phone at (979) 845-8328 or by e-mail at glasscock@tamu.edu. To join the Center’s listserv and receive regular notices of colloquia and other events, please register at http://listserv.tamu.edu/archives/chr-l.html.