Judith Butler's book Gender Trouble, published in 1990, enjoyed its thirtieth anniversary in 2020. To that end, the Association for Asian Studies, the United States’ largest association of academics working on Asia, invited scholars to consider the importance of her arguments and ideas for Asian studies and scholarship in Asia, including how scholars have diverged from and expanded their studies of gender and sexuality in ways not anticipated by Butler when she first published the book. In this essay, I examine the impact of Butler's book in Southeast Asia. Out of the abundance of scholarship stemming from and about the region's eleven diverse countries and their histories, I prioritize those works that explicitly engage the theoretical insights in Gender Trouble to elucidate the lives of gender-nonconforming communities in Southeast Asia. I include scholarship that allows me to explore the disjunction between categories of analysis that are foundational to Butler's theory and those at work in Southeast Asia. Far from rendering Butler's theory and methodological intervention inapposite, this mismatch has catalyzed productive rethinking of Gender Trouble and its implications for the region.

You do not currently have access to this content.