Mimi Thi Nguyen, assistant professor of gender and women's studies and Asian American studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, willl discuss Miss Landmine Cambodia and the biopolitics of beauty screened through the question: what kinds of fantasies are being played out across images of the body of the non-Western female amputee in Western visual cultures of humanitarianism?
In 2009, the controversial NGO Miss Landmine sought to hold their second annual pageant in Cambodia. Though the Cambodian government refused to allow the pageant to proceed, Miss Landmine nonetheless produced a pictorial featuring the female amputee contestants posed in front of tumbled temples and lush greenery. Hoping to engender “female pride and empowerment,” “disabled pride and empowerment, and “global and local landmine awareness and information,” the pageant pursues a politics of “becoming visible,” rendering “awareness” of landmines through their inscription on amputees, and awarding a prize of a golden prosthetic limb.
Nguyen's first book "The Gift of Freedom: War, Debt, and Other Refugee Passages" (forthcoming from Duke University Press), focuses on the promise of “giving” freedom concurrent and contingent with waging war. Nguyen also co-edited "Alien Encounters: Pop Culture in Asian America" (Duke University Press, 2007). She also publishes on queer subcultures, punk feminisms, digital media and more.
The talk is sponsored by: Center for Asian American Studies, Department of American Studies, Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice, and Center for Women and Gender Studies.