Skip to main content

Dr. Zairong Xiang

Postdoctoral Fellow


Campus Neues Palais
building 2, room 1.14

University of Potsdam
Am Neuen Palais 10
14469 Potsdam

Research Project

White Men Saving the Queens? Decolonizing Queer Theory

My second book project tentatively called “White Men Saving the Queens? Decolonizing Queer Theory”, takes queer art and theorizing as “cosmologies” that simultaneously emerge in different “poleis” around the world both within the Anglosphere and beyond. As cosmopolitanisms in “minor mode”, locally embedded queer artists, theorists and activists not only carry with them planetary visions but also have for a long time transculturally conversed. The project emphasizes on the actual plurality of “queer cosmopolitanisms”, exemplified by the artistico-theoretical practices and political tactics embedded in Severo Sarduy’s painted words, Cui Zi’en’s film piracy and Pedro Lemebel’s bastard crónicas. By reconsidering, decolonizing, and queering the dominant notion of queer theory as a strictly western (especially US) enterprise, the project learns to learn from these artists/theorists whose “queer cosmopolitanisms” from different localities, in different languages, genres, and media with a commitment to transcultural justice, are not to be studied as cases to be added to “queer theory”. Rather their theories-in-action provide invaluable contributions not only to queer theory but also methodologically to decolonizing cosmo-political articulations and actions that go beyond pure theorization and the written word.


I received my cotutelle PhD in Comparative Literature (summa cum laude) from Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Germany and Université de Perpignan Via Domitia, France, with the Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate: Cultural Studies in Literary Interzones. My research intersects feminisms and queer theories, literary and visual studies in their decolonial variants in Spanish, English, Chinese, French, and Nahuatl. I have a strong commitment to the decolonization of knowledge through transregional, tranhistorical, transdisciplinary and translingual dialogue, learning and experimentation. My research has been generously supported by the European Commission (Erasmus Mundus Joint Master, Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate and the FP7-People), the DFG and the ICI Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry.

My publications have appeared in scholarly, artistic, and journalistic milieu on topics such as camp, darkroom, (de)coloniality, translation, Nahuatl, fashion, Pedro Almodóvar, and the toilet. My first book Queer Ancient Ways, a decolonial/queer critique of modern/colonial reception of Babylonian and Aztec/Nahua creation myths, is forthcoming with punctum books. I am co-editor of the special issue on Hyperimage of 新美术: Jounral of the National Academy of Art (vol.39, No.2, 2018) and I am co-editing a special issue The Ontology of the Couple for GLQ – A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies.

I was the chief curator of the Minor Cosmopolitan Weekend event, 6-8 December 2018, organized by the RTG Minor Cosmopolitanisms in collaboration with the HKW Haus der Kulturen der Welt.  

Research Interests

  • Decolonial Feminisms and Queer Theories
  • Comparative Literature and Culture Studies
  • Indigenous and Non-modern Cultures
  • Philosophies and Religious Studies
  • Film and the Visual Arts
  • Science and Technology Studies

Publications and Activities



Articles in Research Journals and Edited Volumes

  • “The Ontology of the Couple” (co-authored with S. Pearl Brilmyer and Filippo Trentin), GLQ: A Journal for Lesbian and Gay Studies, vol.25, no.2, 2019.
  • “Transdualism: Towards a Materio-discursive Embodiment”, in the Special Issue “Trans-in-Asia, Asia-in-Trans”, TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, Vol.5 No.3, 2018.
  • “Below Either/or: Rereading Femininity and Monstrosity inside Enuma Elish“ in Feminist Theology, (2018) pp.115-132.
  • “Camp as a Critical Strategy in Gu Changwei’s And the Spring Comes [立春]” in The Dark Side of Camp – Queer Economy of Dust, Dirt and Patina, eds. Franziska Bergmann, Fabio Cleto, Ingrid Hotz-Davies and Georg Vogt, London: Routledge (2017).
  • “’adam is not man”: Queer Body before Genesis 2:22 (and After) in Unsettling Science and Religion: Contributions and Questions from Queer Studies, eds. Lisa Stenmark and Whitney Bauman, Lexington Press (forthcoming 2018).
  • “The (De)Coloniality of Conceptual Inequivalence: Reinterpreting Ometeotl within Nahua Tlacuiloliztli” in Decolonial Readings of Latin American Literature and Culture, eds. Juan Ramos and Tara Daly, New York: Palgrave Macmillan (2016) pp. 39-55. 


Invited Contributions

  • “Transdualism: Rethinking Subject-Object and Other Couples”, Catalogue of the Exhibition: The Neolithic Childhood: Art in a False Present, ca. 1930 at HKW Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (June, 2018).
  • “性别、妇女与艺术史”[Gender, Women and Art Histories], 美术学研究(第六期)[Studies in Fine Art, No.6],Nanjing: Southeast University Press (2018).
  • How to Unhear and Unsee: Reflections on Ren Hang’s Photography”, OpenDemocracy, (5 May 2017).
  • “Fragments in the Dark” in Darkrooms – Spaces of Invisibility, eds. Marietta Kesting and Sophia Kunze, Berlin: Neofelis Verlag (2016).
  • Annotated Bibliography on Ecocriticism on/from China (with Jonathan Ferguson), Siyi Journal no.3 (2016).
  • “关错的门”[The Door Wrongly Shut], 艺术时代_Art Time. no. 40 (April 2015).
  • “性别与服装-超越男女”[Gender and Fashion: Beyond Man/Woman] 时装设计师_Fashion Designer. no. 137 (September 2012).
  • “性别的迷宫:阿尔莫多瓦的《吾栖之肤》”[The Labyrinth of Gender: Pedro Almodóvar’s La piel que habito]  环球银幕_Global Screen. no. 298 (March 2012).


Journal Special Issues

  • “The Ontology of the Couple: A Special Issue”, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, co-edited with S. Pearl Brilmyer and Filippo Trentin (vol.25 no.2, 2019).
  • “Hyperimage”, 新美术: Journal of National Academy of Art, co-edited with Dong Bingfeng and Teng Yuning (vol.39 no.2, 2018).


Book Reviews


Other Output

  • [Translation] “Vanishing Point” by Jean Baudrillard, translated from French to Chinese, Vanishing Techniques: Photography of Jean Baudrillard, an Exhibition curated by Fei, Dawei, (2010).
  • [Film] Kokakolachickenwings (co-directing with Luciano Zubillaga), collected in Cosas por venir [DVD], Argentina/Germany/UK: Filmarmalade (2015).


Public Lectures

Keynote Speeches, Guest Lectures

  • “Shanzhai as a Theory of the Global South,” invited lecture at the symposium South of the South: Rhetorics of Geography and Imageries of Delinking, Times Museum, Guagnzhou, December 2018.
  • “How to be Happy Together?” invited lecture in the series Human after Man, Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, November 2018.
  • “Who Sustains the Flourishing of Ten Thousand Things? On Porosity, Entanglement, and, Minor Cosmopolitans,” invited lecture at the workshop “How Matter Comes into Literature & How Literature Comes into Matter: New Materialist Methodologies for Literary Studies”, Tübingen University, October 2018.
  • “Tlacuilolli, or Other Queer Ancient Ways of Knowing,” keynote lecture at the 10th Berlin Biennale Crit Sessions, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, September 2018.
  • “Descolonización de pensamiento: descolonizar es una costumbre del pensar,” Centro de Estudios de Teoría y Crítica Literaria, Universidad de la Plata, April 2017.
  • “Descolonización, Coatlicue Queer, y otras Posibilidades para (Re)leer el Mundo,” Facultad de Arte, Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City, February 2016.
  • “Queer of Color in the Dark(room)”, [lecture series: Kunst-Forschung-Geschlecht: “Feminist and Queer Strategies in the Production and Appropriation of Space (2015-2016)”], Universität für angewandte Kunst, Vienna, November 2015.


Invited Talks

  • “Decolonizing Gender and Sexuality” roundtable discussion at International Literature Festival Berlin: decolonizing wor:l:ds, aquarium, September 2018.
  • “Transdualism: The A/history of Yinyang”, lecture at the conference “Deep Time and Crisis, ca. 1930” in the context of the exhibition “Neolithic Childhood: Art in a False Present, ca.1930”, HKW Haus der Kulturen der Welt, May 2018.
  • “Queer Tianxia: Towards a Porous Planetarity”, presentation at the workshop “Planetary Humanities, Cosmopolitan Philosophies, Social Networks: Perspectives from China and the West”, Duke University, March 2018.
  • “South-South Encounter: Literature and Shanzhai”, presentation at the workshop “China and the Global South: The Central Role of Gender and Sexuality”, co-organized by UC Santa Cruz and Renmin University, Chicago University Beijing Center, September 2017.
  • “Il faut trouer les savoirs”, presentation and roundtable discussion at the panel “Faut-il classer les saviors”, ICI Berlin, July 2017.
  • “Qui a peur de la mère? Imaginer autrement une théorie queer décolonisée et écologique”, presentation at the workshop “Queering Motherhood: la psychanalyse bousculée”, l’UTRPP – Université de Paris13 Sorbonne Paris Cité, April 2017.
  • “Decentering Theory: Chinese Perspectives on Nature and the Body”, guest lecture at the “Cultural Studies Speak” lecture series, Queen’s University (Kingston), March 2017.
  • “Tlacuiloa con pluma: Severo Sarduy y la escritura descolonizada”, guest lecture at the international forum: “Pensamiento descolonial: Políticas y Producción de Conocimiento”, Colegio de Filosofia, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Feburary 2017.
  • “‘Lo primero para hacer la revolución es ir bien vestida’ o What Can Drag Teach Us About Literature”, presentation at the workshop “De/localizing Literature”, Friedrich Schlegel Graduiertenschule, Freie Universität, Berlin, January 2017.
  • “Laughter – Mishearing – Coloniality: Is there an Exodus through Laughter?” at the International Symposium Exodus, Constitution & Queer Politics of Laughter, Institute for Queer Theory, Berlin, June 2016.
  • “Reconfiguring the Queer as the Student,” response and roundtable discussion, “Queer Resistance” at the conference: Weak Resistance: Everyday Struggles and the Politics of Failure, ICI Berlin, May 2015.
  • “Reconfiguring the Queer as the Student,” response and roundtable discussion, “Queer Resistance” at the conference: Weak Resistance: Everyday Struggles and the Politics of Failure, ICI Berlin, May 2015.
  • “表征,招魂与性别表演” [Representation, Spectrality and Gender Performativity], guest colloquia, the Association of Chinese Scientists at Tübingen University, May 2014.
  • “知识的殖民性: 介绍去殖民选项” [The Coloniality of Knowledge: Introducing Decolonial Options], guest colloquia at Yinfeng Salon. Beijing, March 2013. 


Curated and Convened Events

  • Minor Cosmopolitan Weekend” a three-day event with lectures, performances, exhibitions, and films at HKW Haus der Kulturen der Welt, December 2018.
  • Good Scientific Practices in the Age of Uncertainty” a two-day workshop featuring a keynote converestaion between Hito Steyerl and Tom Holert at Potsdam University, June 2017.
  • Gendered Practices” session 10 of the 34th CIHA World Congress in Art History at Peking University and Chinese Academy of Fine Arts, September 2016.
  • The Ontology of the Couple” a two-day symposium, co-organized with S. Pearl Brilmyer and Filippo Trentin at ICI Berlin Insititute for Cultural Inquiry, June 2016.
  • Confronting Gender and Faith” a two-day international conference, co-organized with Gero Bauer (ZGD-Tübingen) at ICI Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry, December 2015.


Conference Papers

  • “Queer of Color Critique”, presentation and roundtable discussion at the conference: “Race, Power, and Privilege in Academia”, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, July 2017.
  • “The Coloniality of Translation” at the International Congress of Latin American Studies Association, New York, May 2016.
  • “TCM’s Body of Orifices and its Implication in Contemporary Queer Studies” at the 14th International Conference on History of Science in East Asia, Paris, July 2015.
  • “The Penis as an Errant Method” at the Workshop: Margins of Error, ICI Berlin, June 2015.
  • “Rethinking Ecology with TCM’s Cosmic Body” at the 10th International Whitehead Conference: Seizing an Alternative-Toward an Ecological Civilization, Claremont, June 2015.
  • “The Strange Case of Tlaltecuhtli, or Why Decolonial Learning is Indispensable” at the annual meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association, New York, March 2014.
  • “The Irritating Orifices: Queer Reading of the I-Ching” at Irritation: An International Conference, Tübingen, September 2013.
  • “How to Understand Yin Yang?” at the International Conference: Yin Yang: a New Paradigm for Culture, Stockholm, June 2012.
  • “Aprender a aprender del pasado una nueva lectura sobre dos esculturas aztecas Coatlicue Mayor y Tlaltecuhtli a través de una comparación del pensamiento dualista azteca y el yin-yang chino” at the International Conference: América Latina y el Caribe y China: Condiciones y retos en el siglo XXI, Mexico City, May 2012.
  • “Failure of the Penis (as a Resistance) in the Phallocentric Construction” at the Winter School: Exploring Texts: Literary Figurations of Failure, Tübingen, October 2013.
  • “Madre Primordial: Creadora/Devoradora” at VII Coloquio Neurohumanidades, Mexico City, March 2012.


As Discussant

  • Discussant of the film series and cultural event “Gender and Sexuality in China,” China Zentrum, Tübingen University, July 2018.
  • Respondent of the panel “Planetary Humanities”, Duke University, March 2018.
  • Discussant of the forum: “Frames of Images” at Shenzhen International Urban Image Festival, October 2017.
  • Respondent of the talk “Comparative Methods in Spatial Approaches to Religions” by Whitney Bauman at the workshop “Cross-cultural and Interdisciplinary Approaches to New Materialism and Ecological”, Beijing Normal University, September 2016.
  • Discussant of the lecture “In the Theater of Visual Didactics: Aby Warburg’s Image Montages between Scientific Atlas and Artistic Experiment” by Uwe Flackner, OCAT Institute Beijing, September, 2015.