restricted access Sex and the Colonial City: Mapping Masculinity, Whiteness, and Desire in French Occupied Hanoi
Abstract

Abstract:

Based on an analysis of sexually explicit cartoons from a Hanoi newspaper, this essay is a gendered reading of the colonial encounter in French Indochina. Using previously untapped sources from the pre-1954 collection in Vietnam's National Library, I engage critical theories of masculinity and whiteness to create a thick description of life in the colonial city. From a feminist perspective, I argue that imperialism's racial, gender, and class hierarchies combined with the Third Republic's paternalism and misogyny to give French men unprecedented power over their Asian subjects, especially Vietnamese women, be they prostitutes, concubines, or victims of sexual assault. This intersectionality created an openly predatory sexual culture in the overwhelmingly male white community of colonizers. These cartoons show specific locations in Hanoi and greater colonial Asia, providing insight into the lived experience of the colonial city and information to literally map these white men's sexual desires in the city.


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