KAREN TONGSON /// Queer Suburban Imaginaries


This podcast consists in an introduction to the book of Karen Tongson’s book Relocations: Queer Suburban Imaginaries (2011) that primarily situates its research in Orange County and the Inland Empire, both in Southern California. Demystifying the outsider imaginary of a white heteronormative suburbia, Karen makes for us a (non-exhaustive) inventory of the events and objects that populate these queer imaginaries. From the houses front yards to the mini-malls and from the the Studio K to the performances of JJ Chinois and British pop muisc, she recounts the navigation of queers bodies both in the space of suburbia and in the televisual/musical broadcasted environment.

Karen Tongson is Associate Professor of English and Gender Studies at University of Southern California, and the author of Relocations: Queer Suburban Imaginaries (NYU Press, 2011). Her work has appeared in numerous venues in print and online, including Social Text, GLQ, and Novel: A Forum on Fiction. She is currently the series editor for Postmillennial Pop at NYU Press, and just completed a multi-year term as co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Popular Music Studies. Her current book project, Empty Orchestra: Karaoke. Critical. Apparatus. critiques prevailing paradigms of imitation in contemporary aesthetics and critical theory, while offering a genealogy of karaoke technologies, techniques, and desires. See her Funambulist contributor page.

– “Podcast Transcripts: Queer Suburban Imaginaries,” in The Funambulist 2 (Nov-Dec 2015) Suburban Geographies.


– Karen Tongson, Relocations: Queer Suburban Imaginaries, NYU Press, 2011.
– José Esteban Muñoz, Disidentifications: Queers Of Color And The Performance Of Politics, University of Minnesota Press, 1999.
– Jennifer Doyle, Sex Objects: Art And The Dialectics Of Desire, University of Minnesota Press, 2006.
– Henry Jenkins, Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture, Routledge, 2012.


– Mimi Thi Nguyen, “Bruce Lee I Love You: Discourses of Race and Masculinity in the Queer Superstardom of JJ Chinois,” in Mimi Thi Nguyen and Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu (ed), Alien Encounters: Popular Culture in Asian America, Duke University Press, 2007.


– Gender Performativity in the History of Suburban Architecture with Olivia Ahn (April 2014)