Di Mana Bumi Dipijak, Di Situ Pelangi Dijunjung

Migration West and the Spatio-Temporal Configuration of Queer Malaysian Identities in London


  • Ash Masing University of Cambridge




temporality, queer migration, nationalism, postcolonialism, geography, social


This paper is concerned with understanding the complex tensions between national and queer identity in the context of migration, especially migration from the postcolony towards the imperial core; here, issues of modernity, progress, and futurity become contested when the possibility for a queer way of being is made available within the colonial metropole. Using approaches at the intersection of nationalism, queer theory, and postcolonialism, I specifically focus on queer Malaysians in London, and the ways migration towards a ‘liberating’ West has informed the articulation of their nationality and sexualities. After conducting five semi-structured interviews with LGBT+ identifying Malaysian migrants, I conclude that moving to London has configured these identities along spatial and temporal lines, where queerness is rendered a new kind of present and potential future, whilst Malaysian identity remains a spectre from a ‘repressive’ past. Given the underlying assemblages of homonationalism and Western hegemony that subsume queerness under the tent of Western values, progression, modernity, and futurity are made available through the internalisation of a Western queer politics and the formation of new (homo)national affiliations.


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