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The Center for Southeast Asian Studies organizes and sponsors a number of events such as lectures, film screening, workshops, symposia, conferences, exhibits, and performances throughout the year.  Several of these events are in collaboration with other U-M units, and are often free and open to the public. To see what we have planned for this semester, please visit our 2020 Lecture Series page.

CSEAS Lecture Series. The Past, Present, and Future of LGBT Activism in Singapore: A Roundtable on Pink Dot

Alfian Sa’at, Michelle Lazar, Robert Phillips, Pavan Mano, Adi Saleem Bharat
Monday, October 25, 2021
9:30-11:00 AM
Free and open to the public. Register at:

This roundtable panel discusses the success and limits of an annual LGBT event called Pink Dot that began in Singapore, a city-state that imposes significant barriers to political organizing. The first decade of Pink Dot has now come to an end, but it is clear that the annual event has had a significant impact in terms of increased visibility for a marginalized community. Yet, despite the successes of Pink Dot, very little has concretely changed in Singapore for LGBT individuals.

In July 2021, the Journal of Language and Sexuality (J. Lang. Sex.) published the first special issue dedicated to Pink Dot. In exploring the use of language in the Pink Dot movement, the articles in this special issue simultaneously grapple with the past decade of Pink Dot and explore whether LGBT activism in Singapore might be evolving beyond the relatively ‘acceptable’ approach of Pink Dot’s strategic assimilationism.

The panel will be joined by the acclaimed Singaporean poet Alfian Sa’at, Professor Michelle Lazar of the National University of Singapore, and the three editors of the J. Lang. Sex. Professor Adi Saleem Bharat of the University of Michigan, Professor Robert Phillips of Ball State University, and Ph.D. student candidate Pavan Mano of King’s College London.


Alfian Sa’at is the resident playwright of Wild Rice. Some of his queer-themed plays include Dreamplay: Asian Boys Vol. 1, Landmarks: Asian Boys Vol. 2, Happy Endings: Asian Boys Vol. 3, and The Insiders. In 2012, he published a collection of queer poetry called The Invisible Manuscript. He was also part of the original committee that organized the first Pink Dot in 2009.

Michelle Lazar is associate professor and head of the Department of English Language & Literature at the National University of Singapore. With research interests in critical discourse studies and multimodality, Lazar has published widely in the areas of gender, sexuality, media, and politics. She was the recipient of the 2018 IGALA Best Article Award for her research on the discourse of homonationalism in a global southern context.

Robert Phillips is an associate professor of anthropology at Ball State University. He lectures on ethnographic methods and the anthropology of religion. Much of his empirical research was conducted in India and Singapore, focusing on the intersection of religion, technology, and cultural change. Most recently, Phillips has been conducting research with Jewish, queer, and BIPOC communities to understand how and why they employ alternative healthcare models in the healing of individual and communal trauma.

Pavan Mano is a PhD candidate in the Department of English at King’s College London. He works primarily in the cultural studies tradition at the intersections of language and literature. His current research deals with the heteronormativity and the politics of kinship, race, nationalism, and the operation of xenology produced as a function of these logics.

Adi Saleem Bharat is an LSA Collegiate Fellow and, from Fall 2022, an assistant professor in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Michigan. His research examines the intersection of race, religion, gender, and sexuality in contemporary France, with a focus on Jews and Muslims. As a Singaporean, he also maintains an active interest in contemporary Southeast Asia.
Building: Off Campus Location
Location: Virtual
Event Link:
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: Activism, center for southeast asian studies, Cseas Lecture Series, Discussion, Diversity, LGBT, Multicultural
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Center for Southeast Asian Studies, International Institute, Asian Languages and Cultures