Identity or Obsession: Translating Homosexuality into Chinese

Dr Ting Guo’s research investigates how Western scientific discourse on homosexuality was translated to China in the early twentieth century. She explores how this discourse was redeployed in China’s nation-building and quest for modernity, focusing on how Western biological understandings of sex and sexuality affected the traditional yin-yang based correlative view of sex in China, and how Chinese translators appropriated the foreign knowledge to reinvent tradition and map out Chinese history of homosexuality which challenged and problematized Western knowledge of sexuality. This research will begin with a pilot project on the translation of vocabulary relating to homosexuality from English into Chinese in Republic era (1911-1945). Centred on a case study of Pan Guangdan’s translation of Havelock Ellis’ Psychology of Sex (1934) in 1939, this pilot project examines how the translation of Western sexual sciences medicated Chinese vocabularies for sex and desire and how this interest in Western sexology intersected with the complex history of politics and nationalism in early twentieth century’s China. This research is part of a larger collaborative project about translating the history of sex that is being undertaken across the College of Humanities.