This essay argues that the figure of the human in Marx is grounded neither in the “essence of man” nor in the metahistorical movement of capital. Instead, the human in Marx offers a moral standpoint based on the equality of human time. This perspective, I argue, is indispensable for our understanding of the historical phenomenon of queer human rights discourse in and against China. I analyze this discourse as the political instrument that allows the Republic of China (ROC) to distinguish itself from the People's Republic of China (PRC). As my narrative shows, Taiwan has indeed made some civic space for queer subjects, but this queer space presumes and embodies a new kind of homonormativity that punishes and disciplines sexual minorities who do not conform to accepted norms of sexual respectability. What is missing in the global perception of Taiwan as the liberal counterpart to the authoritarian PRC, then, is an account of the precise political and discursive conditions under which sexual subject comes to qualify as human. The case of queer human rights in and against China calls for a renewed understanding of the human and the power differentials that produce this figure in the era of postindustrial global financial capitalism.
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Petrus Liu; Queer Human Rights in and against China: Marxism and the Figuration of the Human. Social Text 1 March 2012; 30 (1 (110)): 71–89. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-1468326
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