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A nation must think before it acts.
Ding-Liang Chen is Assistant Research Fellow in the Department of Research and Planning at the Taiwan-Asia Exchange Foundation (TAEF). With an interdisciplinary background in economics, literature, and cultural theory, he works at the intersections of feminist, queer, and postcolonial studies in transpacific contexts. His thesis Perverse Pacifics: Articulating Sexualities in Hawai‘i and the Philippines in the Age of American Empire investigates a specific body of documentaries and literary texts that enable us to dissect the ways in which cultural formations of indigenous sexualities in Pacific societies are inextricable from continuing and converging histories of racism, nationalism, colonialism, and migration. This resignification of personal desires in a transpacific framework offers a conceptual potential to critique the emergence of American empire since the dawn of the twentieth century.
Chen’s current research and writing aim to develop a theoretical approach of understanding how transpacific intimacies have been supported, organized, and intervened by technological infrastructures and media interfaces in their imperial, military, logistical, aesthetic, affective, and ecological registers. He is interested in topics including how new media and technological arts in Southeast Asia problematize multi-layered colonial histories and Cold War legacies; how scientific breakthroughs in nuclear technologies influence aesthetic forms in arts and literature; in what ways do transnational broadcasting technologies constructed in colonial times serve as a way to connect and disconnect oceanic communities; what ecological insights do bioarts and biotechnologies stimulate in the Anthropocene; and how the Pacific history of modern aeronautic media has been hidden in the bipolar Cold War narratives of orbital revolutions, etc. These scenes of transpacific relationscape, as Chen believes, should be taken as a critical site of inquiry for us to analyze how the world has been built and how it could be different in an alternative future that is yet to come.
Aside from academic research, Chen has also been working with various local art groups and cultural associations in Southeast Asia to foreground potential transnational artistic and cultural interactions within and beyond the region. To explore more information, updates, and useful links about his current projects, please visit: https://zalechen29.wixsite.com/mysite.