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Alterity, Negativity, Artistic Intervention, and World-Making

Alterity, Negativity, Artistic Intervention, and World-Making
—Hwa-Jen Tsai, Institute of Social Research and Cultural Studies, National Chiao Tung University


This research project investigates how contemporary cinema, video, and installation art tackle with issues concerning non-citizens and semi-citizens, including migrants, migrant workers, and queers. It seeks to answer the following questions: How does one face the alterity of ethnic, gender, and sexual others, whose experiences and historical perspectives differ from dominant groups? How should one view the social negativity--and negative affects--of ethnic, gender, and sexual minorities? What is the underlying logic behind the political and cultural rhetorics of "tolerance," "inclusion," and "assimilation”? What are the problems intrinsic to those rhetorics? Are there ways of thinking social marginality without reproducing the logic of assimilation and multiculturalism? What are the limits of contemporary liberal politics that emphasize visual representation and the politics of voicing, and nothing else? This research project will examine the ways in which film and artworks provide alternative ways of thinking through marginality and negativity that go beyond identity politics and multiculturalism--both of which tend to reproduce the same oppressive mechanism that creates social and political inequality in the first place.