Who can resist a book about "Asian performance shaped by the homoerotics of orientalism [that] focuses on the relationship between the white man and the native boy"? Released last week, Brown Boys and Rice Queens: Spellbinding Performance in the Asias [Kindle] promises "Eng-Beng Lim unpacks this as the central trope for understanding colonial and cultural encounters in 20th and 21st century Asia and its diaspora. Using the native boy as a critical guide, Lim formulates alternative readings of a traditional Balinese ritual, postcolonial Anglophone theatre in Singapore, and performance art in Asian America. Tracing the transnational formation of the native boy as racial fetish object across the last century, Lim follows this figure as he is passed from the hands of the colonial empire to the postcolonial nation-state to neoliberal globalization. Read through such figurations, the traffic in native boys among white men serves as an allegory of an infantilized and emasculated Asia, subordinate before colonial whiteness and modernity. Pushing further, Lim addresses the critical paradox of this entrenched relationship that resides even within queer theory itself by formulating critical interventions around "Asian performance."
Lisa Duggan says, "Through fresh and compelling analyses, Eng-Beng Lim repeatedly shifts the lens through which we view our queerly postcolonial journey. Lim’s writing is always witty, sometimes hilarious, making this provocative new work of scholarship a pleasure and a revelation."