Theses Doctoral

Playing Gay: Organizing Tongzhi Fun and HIV/Aids Politics in Southwest China

Wortham, Andrew Thomas

Over the past thirty years, we have seen a rise in sexual self identification and group affiliation based on sexual identity across the world, but particularly in China. Much of the research on this topic has focused on the role capitalism and urbanization has played in producing the circumstances under which tongzhi (gay men) could come together, which has necessarily prioritized processed of transnationalism, class aesthetics and geographic emphasis on coastal areas. This project expands the literature on tongzhi assembling by focusing on the legacy of HIV/AIDS organizations in the province of Yunnan in helping to bring important funding and political opportunity to emerging tongzhi social groups. Through presenting detailed ethnographic data, I argue that the organization’s leaders engage in a form of fragmented authoritarian politics which involves balancing between localized bureaucratic political demands and organizing opportunities of fun for tongzhi men who may lack other spaces and times to meet. In this dissertation I will discuss how activities of play allow these groups to balance between dominant discourses and pragmatic social interactions.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Applied Anthropology
Thesis Advisors
Varenne, Herve H.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 3, 2021