Tai Kwun Conversations – Summer Institute #5

Tai Kwun Conversations – Summer Institute #5

Date & Time

6 Jan 2023 7:30pm – 9:00pm


JC Cube


Exclusive to Tai Kwun Fan, Free of charge

The Future of the Body is a Body of the Past and a Body of Porosity

How are we to live together in an ecologically entangled yet politically divided world? How do we live in a situation simultaneously marked by our differences and our shared struggle? How are we to imagine a world in which all living things can flourish? 

The upcoming edition of Tai Kwun Conversations – Summer Institute #5: The Future of the Body is a Body of the Past and a Body of Porosity features professor Zairong Xiang, whose research draws from multiple areas, including art, literature, philosophy, religion, and sex/gender, together with Dr. Lili Lai, whose research interests focus on the body, everyday life, and medical practice.

This conversation will start with what we have: the body, or more precisely, its orifices. Presenting a “perverse” reading of passages from The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon, the Daodejing, and I Ching (Book of Changes), the talk will borrow elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine and philosophy to explore the various connections to the porous body-of-orifices that exist in and between the texts and sexuality, knowledge, and the cosmos. What can contemporary debates in queerness, knowledge formation, and decolonisation draw as inspiration from both the heuristic apophasis deployed in the ancient texts in question and the idea of bodily porosity featured in them? Looking into the past and its porous connection to the present, we can imagine what a porous queer cosmo-logy/-politanism might look like and what it can do to circumvent the pitfalls of the imperio-heteronormativity represented by major neoliberal cosmopolitanism and the colonial-homonormativity of queer liberalism. 

This talk is a crossover event of Tai Kwun Conversations and Summer Institute #5. Tai Kwun Conversations is a monthly event that brings together brilliant minds from the fields of contemporary art, architecture, heritage, among many others. Summer Institute is a two-week programme of tertiary education seminars and distinguished public lectures focused on students and art professionals from Hong Kong and Asia. Apply now for a unique chance to work closely with some of the most important art theorists and thinkers, curators, artists, and philosophers in the world.

Summer Institute #5: Future Bodies invites seven scholars to share their research on historical and contemporary discourses on the body, examining the evolution and development of the notion of the body, with respect to “transdualism”, critical data studies, biohacking, neuroscience, and sex/gender studies. In the process, they will explore multiple ways to imagine and realise new futures within our existing systems and social structures.

This event will be conducted in English, with English to Cantonese simultaneous interpretation.

Speakers Bio

Lili LAI (Public Lecture, Online)
Zairong XIANG

Lili Lai received her PhD in Anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2009. After completing a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute of Sociology and Anthropology of Peking University, she joined PKU’s School of Health Humanities in 2011. Now an associate professor of anthropology, Lai’s research interests focus on the body, everyday life, and medical practice. Lai has done extensive ethnographic and interdisciplinary research on health-related issues in northern and southwest Mainland, in both rural and urban areas. Through sensitive readings of everyday social life and analysis of the periodically erupting frictions in “Shang Village” (Henan), her 2016 book, Hygiene, Sociality, and Culture in Contemporary Rural China demonstrates that the conventional generalizations about rural people are not only wrong, but dangerous. As a medical anthropologist with expertise in the anthropologies of knowledge and the body, her 2021 book, Gathering Medicines: Nation and Knowledge in China's Mountain South (co-authored with Judith Farquhar), discusses the development of local healthcare systems in areas with minority ethnic groups to produce a work that is both historical anthropology and an ethnography of national cultural production. She also previously conducted an ethnographic study on the practice of assisted reproductive technologies, giving particular attention to the subtle ways in which expert technical knowledge is in practice blended with rather superstitious procedures that play with the uncertainty of achieving a pregnancy by any means, scientific or otherwise.

Zairong Xiang, author of Queer Ancient Way: A Decolonial Exploration (punctum books, 2018), is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and Artistic Director at Duke Kunshun University, a Sino-US joint-venture. His research draws from multiple areas, including art, literature, philosophy, religion, and sex/gender. As a member of the Hyperimage Group at Guangdong Museum of Art, he co-curated INTERMINGLING FLUX: Guangzhou Image Triennial 2021, and was later co-curator of the Experimental Film & Video Festival in Seoul (2022). He was also chief curator of the Minor Cosmopolitan Weekend at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) in Berlin, Germany (2018) and edited its catalogue, minor cosmopolitan: Thinking Art, Politics, and the Universe Together Otherwise (Diaphanes, 2020). He is currently co-curating the HKW exhibition-live event-publication project Ceremony (Burial of an Undead World) with Anselm Franke, Elisa Giuliano, Denise Ryner, and Claire Tancons. Xiang has now embarked on a second book/exhibition project that will investigate the concepts of “transdualism” and “counterfeit” in the Global South, with a particular focus on Latin America and China. He was appointed a fellow at the ICI-Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry (2014–2016) and postdoctoral fellow of the DFG Research Training Group minor cosmopolitanisms at Potsdam University (2016–2020).