Mei-Hua Chen

Professor

Research Interests:

My research focuses on gender and sexuality. So far the result of my research falls into three categories: sex work, work and embodiment, and intimacies. 

Concerning the part of research on sex work, apart from gaining the understanding of Taiwanese sex industry from sex workers’ as well as sex consumers’ perspectives, my work encompasses other social agents’ understanding of sex work, such as the business owners, the third parties, and the administrative sectors who track down sex workers in daily base. In addition, I have gradually expanded my research into Chinese migrants sex workers in Taiwan and the Taiwanese men who buy sex in China, thereby attempting to investigate the ways in which transnational sexual migration has been shaped by gender, sexuality and international economic hierarchy. Lately, in response to the decision of Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 666 and the amendments made to the Social Order Maintenance Act, I have moved to research on the ways in which state policing on prostitution, and aim to unpack the moral politics surrounding prostitution.

The research on work and embodiment is an extension of my research on sex work. Here I continue my investigation into the ways in which female laborers’ bodies  and sexuality are shaped by the capital while the bodies grows to acquaint themselves with and learn the physical skills generated by work in the process of daily work. In Taiwan there is still relatively little research in the fields of body work and intimate labor where long working hours, low wages and intense demand of care and patience are required, the fields dominated by women. The book I co-edited with professor Chin-fen Chang, Embodiment in Work: Performing Gender and Labor at the Workplace in Taiwan, is my response to such an issue.

Intimacy is a common research topic in sociology of gender and sexuality. In the past 30 years, the formation of intimate relationship and the daily practice of intimacy have gone through great transformation in Taiwanese society. Both the activism of decriminalising adultery and the legalisation of same-sex marriage aim to challenge and subvert heteronormativity. At the invitation of Journal of Women’s and Gender Studies, I guest-edited a special issue on “Non-confirming Intimacies”, recording the practices of non-confirming gender and sexual norms outside heteronormativity. Also, in the past decade the Multiple-Persons Family Movement has made homosexuality visible to the society as well as stirring up the anti-homosexual sentiments in the society, thereby pushing for the mobilisation of anti-homosexual camp. Therefore I co-edited the book Desiring Sexual Citizens with Professor Hsiuyun Wang and Dr. Yu-ling Huang, which combs the literature on same-sex intimacy in literature, religion, medicine and family practices. We hope to create a space of rational dialogue with this book.