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“On display: The Interweaving of rituals, identities and commodities in the practice of transgenders funeral performers in Southern Vietnam

Nguyen, Huong LU (2015) International workshop on “Religious pluralism, magic & gender/sex diversity in Southeast Asia”
Abstract
While gender diversity has become more visible in Vietnam, the topic of transgender is still surrounded by taboos and has received scant academic attention. In this paper, by using historical and ethnographical materials, I examine the participation of transgender individuals as performers at funerals in southern Vietnam. I also want to show that this phenomenon is a vivid example of how the recombination and transformation of certain Southeast Asian traits highlight the relative tolerance of gender diversity embedded in (southern) Vietnamese culture. Performances of this kind—intangible commodities exchangeable for ready cash—provide certain transgenders a means to earn their living in a society where job opportunities for them are... (More)
While gender diversity has become more visible in Vietnam, the topic of transgender is still surrounded by taboos and has received scant academic attention. In this paper, by using historical and ethnographical materials, I examine the participation of transgender individuals as performers at funerals in southern Vietnam. I also want to show that this phenomenon is a vivid example of how the recombination and transformation of certain Southeast Asian traits highlight the relative tolerance of gender diversity embedded in (southern) Vietnamese culture. Performances of this kind—intangible commodities exchangeable for ready cash—provide certain transgenders a means to earn their living in a society where job opportunities for them are scarce. They also offer them a luminal space to express themselves and live out their own true identities even for brief moments. These performances and activities around them offer more than a glimpse into the interweaving of the unreal and the real, the spiritual and the mundane, the traditional and the modern, against a contrasting background of social prejudices and the quest for individual self-expression. And from wider perspectives, it is worth having a look how these local cultural practices may fit in with current global discourses. (Less)
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author
publishing date
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Contribution to conference
publication status
unpublished
subject
conference name
International workshop on “Religious pluralism, magic & gender/sex diversity in Southeast Asia”
language
English
LU publication?
no
id
9d576cf5-1d12-4b53-845a-6cb96b393aac (old id 5148329)
date added to LUP
2015-03-09 13:57:27
date last changed
2016-06-29 09:09:56
@misc{9d576cf5-1d12-4b53-845a-6cb96b393aac,
  abstract     = {While gender diversity has become more visible in Vietnam, the topic of transgender is still surrounded by taboos and has received scant academic attention. In this paper, by using historical and ethnographical materials, I examine the participation of transgender individuals as performers at funerals in southern Vietnam. I also want to show that this phenomenon is a vivid example of how the recombination and transformation of certain Southeast Asian traits highlight the relative tolerance of gender diversity embedded in (southern) Vietnamese culture. Performances of this kind—intangible commodities exchangeable for ready cash—provide certain transgenders a means to earn their living in a society where job opportunities for them are scarce. They also offer them a luminal space to express themselves and live out their own true identities even for brief moments. These performances and activities around them offer more than a glimpse into the interweaving of the unreal and the real, the spiritual and the mundane, the traditional and the modern, against a contrasting background of social prejudices and the quest for individual self-expression. And from wider perspectives, it is worth having a look how these local cultural practices may fit in with current global discourses.},
  author       = {Nguyen, Huong},
  language     = {eng},
  title        = {“On display: The Interweaving of rituals, identities and commodities in the practice of transgenders funeral performers in Southern Vietnam},
  year         = {2015},
}