An article about male cosmetic surgery as a by product of neoliberal consumer culture in China by Hua Wen of the United Nations Population Fund (China Office) has won the Wang Gungwu Prize for the best article published in Asian Studies Review in 2021.
The President of the Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA), Professor Kate McGregor, announced the winner of the annual prize, which was established by the ASAA in 2013 to recognise and encourage scholarly excellence in the Asian Studies Review.
Hua Wen’s article ‘Gentle Yet Manly: Xiao Xian Rou, Male Cosmetic Surgery, and Neoliberal Consumer Culture in China’ skilfully combines traditional Chinese ideas of ideal masculinity as well as those coming from Japan and Korea in recent times to show that the current situation is not a straight-forward binary of feminine/masculine or even traditional/modern in contemporary urban Chinese culture. The rapid changes in Chinese urban culture are reflected in the fluidity of notions of manliness and beauty, and male cosmetic surgery is a manifestation of that. Furthermore, the paper’s discussion of how those who perform the surgery can and do influence the way the social understanding of male beauty informative and insightful. The judges found the methodology of data collection innovative, and its analysis sophisticated. The article illuminates changing conceptions of masculinity throughout the Asian region. As such, the issues it addresses are sure to have a broader relevance beyond China. Further to this the article is likely to have a lasting academic significance.
The 2021 prize was judged by Professor Kam Louie, Dr Lia Kent and Professor Baogang He.
The article appeared in volume 45, issue 2, 2021 of the Asian Studies Review edited by David Hundt of Deakin University.
The Wang Gungwu Prize is named in honour of Professor Wang Gungwu, the distinguished historian who has contributed enormously to scholarship not only in Australia but also in Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore. Professor Wang was also a key person behind the formation of the ASAA in 1976 and has served as its president.
The Wang Gungwu Prize is an award of $1,500 to the author and the winning article is free to access on the journal’s homepage.