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Drawing on over a decade of ethnographic fieldwork in northwest China, Casey James Miller offers a novel, compelling, and intimately personal perspective on Chinese queer culture and activism. In Inside the Circle: Queer Culture and Activism in Northwest China, Miller tells the stories of two courageous and dedicated groups of queer activists in the city of Xi’an: a grassroots gay men’s HIV/AIDS organization called Tong’ai and a lesbian women’s group named UNITE. Taking inspiration from “the circle,” a term used to imagine local, national, and global queer communities, Miller shows how everyday people in northwest China are taking part in queer culture and activism while also striving to lead traditionally moral lives in a rapidly changing society. The queer stories in this book broaden our understandings of gender and sexuality in contemporary China and show how taking global queer diversity seriously requires us to de-center Western cultural values, historical experiences, and theoretical perspectives.
About the Author
Casey James Miller is an assistant professor of anthropology at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
"There are many meaningful contributions throughout Inside the Circle, from its central findings to its smaller observations. The discussion of romantic/passionate versus companionate/familial love; the inclusion of Buddhist faith perspectives that are still rare in studies of queer China; the compassionate and critical analysis of how an organization grew, deteriorated, and was rebirthed/reimagined– these and more will stick with me long after reading this work."
— Amy Brainer
"Inside the Circle challenges understandings of queer personhood in China. Tracing the struggles of queer activists in northwest China to reconcile their sexual identities with their deeply held beliefs about what it means to be a moral person, Miller convinces the reader with his rich ethnography that in postsocialist China, queer activism from the margins challenges reductive ideas about homonormativity, expands the public sphere without directly opposing state power, and helps us to imagine new forms of transnational solidarity."
— Lisa Rofel