Transformation as the Nature of Things: Queering the Non/Human in Qing Dynasty Zhiguai

Thomas William Whyke, Melissa Shani Brown

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedingBook Chapterpeer-review


This chapter is the first of two chapters exploring shapeshifting and somatic instability in zhiguai tales. Here, we focus upon the queer figure of the ‘non/human’ (vis-à-vis Giffney and Hird et al., eds., Queering the Non/Human, Ashgate, Hampshire and Burlington, 2008), considering how transforming objects and the blurred boundaries between humans and animals destabilise anthropocentrism. We consider the ways in which such shapeshifting troubles the relationship between bodies and identities, and also brings humans and non/humans into ethical relationships with one another. Such shapeshifting is not always depicted positively, however, and there are also patterns correlating women with animals, and becoming-animal as a form of punishment. Tracing the valence of some of these transformations, we explore how identity hierarchies remain in operation despite (or rather, within) such transformations, and the linking of forms of deviance (including sexual) with non/humanity.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPalgrave Series in Asia and Pacific Studies
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Publication series

NamePalgrave Series in Asia and Pacific Studies
VolumePart F1303
ISSN (Print)2662-7922
ISSN (Electronic)2662-7930


  • Animals and nature in Chinese philosophy
  • Anthropological machine
  • Critical anthropomorphism
  • Gender
  • Non/humans
  • Queer theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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