Robert Diaz

Associate Professor

Email: robert.diaz@utoronto.ca
Phone: 416-946-5801
Office: NC WI 2043

Areas of Interest

  • Sexuality Studies
  • Transnational Feminisms
  • the Philippines and its Diaspora
  • Postcolonial Studies
  • Theories of Empire
  • Asian American and Asian Canadian Studies

I welcome students whose research falls within Filipino and Filipino Diaspora Studies, Queer and Trans Studies, Transnational Sexualities in the global South, Transpacific Studies, Asian North American Studies, and projects concerned that examine the intersections of gender, sexuality, and migration.

Biography

Dr. Robert Diaz is Associate Professor in the Women and Gender Studies Institute (WGSI) at University of Toronto. His research focuses on the experiences of sexual minorities in Asia, with particular attention to diasporic communities in the transpacific, Southeast Asia, and the Philippines. He examines transnational representations of sexual minority Filipinos in contemporary new media, film, and popular culture in order to better understand how notions of human rights, national belonging, and social justice are embodied across different cultural, historical, and political contexts. Collectively, his work broadly identifies the shared barriers that many sexual, gender, and racial minorities face globally. Dr. Diaz’s scholarship has been published in top-ranked peer reviewed journals and foundational edited volumes. These include Signs, GLQ, TSQ, Journal of Asian American Studies, Asian Diasporic Visual Culture and the Americas, Women and Performance, Topia, Filipino Studies: Palimpsests of Nation and Diaspora (NYU Press, 2016) and Global Asian American Popular Cultures (NYU Press, 2016). He also co-edited Diasporic Intimacies: Queer Filipinos and Canadian Imaginaries (Northwestern University Press, 2017), a groundbreaking book that documents the contributions of LGBTQ Filipinos to Canadian culture and society. Diaz has secured competitive research grants within and beyond Canada, from Harvard University, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, SSHRC, and the Connaught Foundation.

His book, A Confetti of Ordinary Dreams: Queer Filipinos and Reparative Acts, is under contract with Duke University Press. This work explores how Filipino sexual minorities re-imagine contemporary nationalisms in a period of heightened globalization and transnational movement. It foregrounds the cultural practices of LGBTQ Filipinos in the Philippines, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, and Canada, by turning to vernacular forms of queer embodiment rooted in the global South. A Confetti of Ordinary Dreams examines the multiple manifestations of kabaklaan, or enactments of camp, humor, and excess traditionally seen as performed by the lower class. Through the work of diasporic scholars, artists, and community members, this book argues for the importance of wayward aspirations, ordinary dreams, and irreverent performances to pursuing a queerly livable life. It offers a cautionary critique of how death, war, and debilitation have become the primary sites from which the field of sexuality studies has envisioned the meaning of radical politics. Diaz notes that sexually marginalized Filipinos subvert state-mandated nationalisms through everyday reparative acts. These acts are composed of performances, political stances, quotidian ways of living, aesthetic inclinations, and sparks of creativity that apprehend a world that can often seem unfriendly by populating that same world with optimism that can seem useless, careless, or even irrational. These acts, in their attachment to the wasted, to the impractical, to the illusory, can paradoxically create the very conditions with which a more livable enough world can begin to appear. At its core, then, A Confetti of Ordinary Dreams ponders on the fraught usefulness of Philippine nationalisms for queer and trans Filipinos, paying close attention to the experiences of those economically disenfranchised. It tracks how individuals re-script overwrought and often harmful notions of national belonging to create the social conditions they deem worth living. While ordinary dreams sometimes align with the disciplinary logics of institutions, they also can also exceed these logics. Ordinary dreams may be experienced within the nation but their reach travels beyond its borders. In a period of crushing debilitation and death, mundane aspirations can also serve as meaningful tactic to finding reasons for living.

Education

Ph.D., M.Phil (English, The Graduate Center – City University of New York)

B.A. (English, University of California – Riverside)

Selected Publications

A. Single Authored Book

A Confetti of Ordinary Dreams: Queer Filipinos and Reparative Acts. Under Contract. Duke University Press.

B. Articles in Refereed Journals

Leung, H., Troeung, Y., Diaz, R. & Campbell, L. 2019. “Routed through Canada: A Roundtable Discussion on Inter-Asia and transnational Research.” Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 20:2. 327-340.

Diaz, R. 2018. “Biyuti from Below: Contemporary Philippine Cinema and the Transing of Kabaklaan.” TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, 5 (3). 404-424.

Diaz, R. 2018. “The Ruse of Respectability: Familial Attachments and Queer Filipino Canadian Critique.” Asian Diasporic Visual Culture and the Americas 4(1-2). 114-136.

Diaz, R, Dai Kojima, and John Paul Catungal. 2018. “Introduction: Feeling Queer, Feeling Asian, Feeling Canadian.” Topia: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies 38. 69-80.

Diaz, R. 2016 “Queer Unsettlements: Diasporic Filipinos in Canada’s World Pride” Journal of Asian American Studies 15(3). 327- 350.

Diaz, R. 2015. “The Limits of Bakla and Gay: My Husband’s Lover, Vice Ganda, and Charice Pempengco.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 40(3).721-745.

Diaz, R. 2012. “Queer Love and Urban Intimacies in Martial Law Manila.” Plaridel: A Philippine Journal of Communication, Media, and Society 9 (2). 1-20.

Diaz, R. 2006. “Melancholic Maladies: Paranoid Ethics, Reparative Envy, and Asian American Critique.” Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory 16(2). 2006. 201-219.

C. Chapters in Books

Diaz, R., Marissa Largo, and Fritz Pino. 2018. “Diasporic Intimacies: Queer Filipinos/as and Canadian Imaginaries” in Queering Urban Justice: Queer of Colour Formations in Toronto. Ed. Jin Haritaworn, Ghaida Moussa, and Syrus Marcus Ware, with Río Rodríguez. University of Toronto Press. 84-99.

Diaz, R. 2017. “Introduction: The ‘Stuff’ of Queer Horizons and Other Utopic Pursuits.” Diasporic Intimacies: Queer Filipinos and Canadian Imaginaries. Ed. Robert Diaz, Marissa Largo, and Fritz Pino. Northwestern University Press. xv-xxxvi.

Diaz, R. 2016. “Redressive Nationalisms, Filipina Victimhood, and Japanese Duress.” Filipino Studies: Palimpsests of Nation and Diaspora. Ed. Martin Manalansan and Augusto F. Espiritu. New York University Press. 197-226.

Diaz, R. 2016. “Queer Returns and the Modern Balikbayan.” Global Asian America Popular Cultures. Ed. Shilpa Dave, Leilani Nishime and Tasha Oren. New York: New York University Press. 335-350.

Honours and Awards

2020

Global International Collaborative Research Grant, Rutgers University.

SSHRC Institutional Grant, University of Toronto.

2019

Charles Warren Fellow, Harvard University

SSHRC Institutional Grant, University of Toronto.

2018

Connaught New Researcher Award, University of Toronto.

Activist-Scholar Award. Filipinos Studies, Association for Asian American Studies.

2017

Educator of the Year Award, Balangay Awards Honoring Filipino Canadians.

Visiting Professor, De La Salle University, Manila.

2015

SSHRC Institutional Grant, OCAD University.

2010

Andrew W. Mellon Sawyer Postdoctoral Fellowship, Department of English, University of California, Los Angeles.

2007

Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow, Department of English, University of Southern California (USC).

2002

Thomas Rivera Award, University of California, Riverside.

Teaching

Undergraduate Courses:

  • WGS260: Texts, Theories, Histories
  • WGS369: Studies in Post-Colonialism
  • WGS37: Studies in Queer and Trans
  • WGS482: Translating Sexuality: Queer Migration, Queer Diasporas

Graduate Courses:

  • WGS5001: Feminist Theories, Histories, Movements
  • WGS1011: Transnational Filipino Studies, Dialogues and Debates
  • SDS1000: Theory and Methods in Sexual Diversity Studies