Kaiqiao, literally meaning ‘open orifices’, is used in the medical classics Huangdi Neijing (the Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor, commonly dated to the Warring State Period, 475–221 BCE) to express the correspondence and connectivity between the human body’s inner organs and their respective external openings (eyes, nostrils, ears etc.), correspondences that are deeply entangled with the seasonal changes of the cosmos. Through a close reading of selected passages from the Inner Canon, the Daodejing, as well as some related hexagrams of the I Ching (Book of Changes), the talk will explore a range of connections this porous body-of-orifices gathers, between text, sexuality, knowledge, and the cosmos. What inspirations can contemporary debates in queerness, knowledge formation, and decolonization draw from both the heuristic apophasis deployed in the ancient texts in question and the idea of bodily porosity featured in them?

Zairong Xiang is a postdoctoral researcher of the DFG Research Training Group ‘Minor Cosmopolitanisms’ at the University of Potsdam and a former ICI Fellow, having received his PhD in comparative literature co-tutelle from the University of Tübingen and the Université de Perpignan Via Domitia with the Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate Cultural Studies in Literary Interzones (2014). His research draws from a wide range of disciplines, areas, and paradigms, notably feminist and queer theories, literature, and art in their decolonized variants in Spanish, English, Chinese, French, and Nahuatl.  His first book, Queer Ancient Ways: A Decolonial Exploration (2018), advocates a profound unlearning of colonial/modern categories as a pathway to the discovery of new forms and theories of queerness in the most ancient of sources, namely, Babylonian Enuma Elish and Nahua creation myths. He has co-edited a special issue of GLQ – A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies on ‘The Ontology of the Couple’ and is currently pursuing two projects, dealing, respectively, with the concepts of ‘transdualism’ and ‘the counterfeit’.

In English
Organized by

Manuele Gragnolati and Almut Suerbaum
An ICI Berlin and Somerville College, Oxford Event

The event, like all events at the ICI Berlin, is open to the public, free of charge. The audience is presumed to consent to a possible recording on the part of the ICI Berlin. If you would like to attend the event yet might require assistance, please contact Event Management.

KV Zairong Openness