Junior Scholar Seminar: 27 March 2021

Refusing Pragmatic Resistance: Queer Presence As “Counter-Conduct”

Zihan Loo, PhD Student, Performance Studies, University of California, Berkeley

Saturday, 27 March 2021, 10–11am Singapore time (GMT +8), via Zoom

This presentation begins with a critique of the strategy of “pragmatic resistance” within the context of queer activism in Singapore. Loo performs this critique via documents from the United Nations Universal Periodic Review for Singapore in 2016. Through an analysis of these documents, he will highlight how “pragmatic resistance” can be an extension of a Foucauldian form of governmentality. Loo offers up an alternative approach through a reading of Foucault’s late texts, and triangulates Foucault’s notion of “practices of freedom” with “counter-conduct” and his emphasis on reclaiming “bodies and pleasures” in refusal of the strategy of “pragmatic resistance”.

Zihan Loo is pursuing his PhD in Performance Studies at UC Berkeley in the department of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies. He received his MA in Performance Studies from NYU and a MFA in Studio Practice (Film, Video, New Media) from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Loo’s seminar is organised in collaboration with the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies at UC Berkeley.


Natalie Oswin is Associate Professor in the department of Human Geography at the University of Toronto Scarborough. Her research interests include queer and postcolonial geographies, global urbanism, and geographic thought. She is author of Global City Futures: Desire and Development in Singapore (University of Georgia Press, 2019), and managing editor of the interdisciplinary journal Society and Space and its companion magazineMore


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The Singapore Studies Junior Scholar Seminars are organised by AcademiaSG, an international collective of Singaporean scholars, as part of our mission to promote research on Singapore. If you are a PhD student or post-doctoral scholar with research to share, read our Call for Proposals. We also welcome essays and commentaries for our Academic Views section. Write to our editors through our contact form to pitch an idea.