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Watching for change : examining discourses of gender, race and sexuality through Paul Wong’s activist/artist videos Young, Sara Kathryn

Abstract

This research involves a discourse analysis of several alternative video works produced by Paul Wong, an alternative video artist based in Vancouver, BC. Utilizing Judith Butler's "Subjects of sex/gender/desire," (1999) to comment and expand on Michel Foucault's four 'rules' for conducting discourse analysis, as laid out in The history of sexuality volume I: An introduction, Part Four, Chapter 2, "Method," (1978, 1990) I analyse Wong's 60 unit: Bruise (1976), Confused: Sexual views (1984) and So are you (1994). By focusing on discourses addressing the intersections of gender, race and sexuality in Wong's work, this analysis focuses on how alternative video art can be examined as activist work from a sociological perspective. Wong's video works reflect his engagements with intersecting queer and racialised identities and, through discourse analysis, can be shown to reflect, question and challenge mainstream queer and Chinese histories in Canada. Exploring Wong's contribution to discourses on gender, race and sexuality acts to underscore the contributions of alternative media artists to changing understandings of historical relations and to mainstream historical constructions of identity. Postmodern perspectives inform much alternative video practice and have worked to break down the distinctions between disciplines, recognize previously ignored mediums as legitimate and important forms and also to recognize a multiplicity of narratives and engage with marginalized perspectives. Utilizing postmodern perspectives, then, this research challenges notions of historical 'truths,' in mainstream narratives and histories.

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