Under Bright Lights By Bobby Benedicto

Introduction by

This review forum follows from an author-meets-critics session on Bobby Benedicto’s Under Bright Lights: Gay Manila and the Global Scene, organized by Natalie Oswin and held at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers in Chicago.

This review forum follows from an author-meets-critics session on Bobby Benedicto’s Under Bright Lights: Gay Manila and the Global Scene, organized by Natalie Oswin and held at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers in Chicago. The forum includes reviews by Gerry Pratt, Derek Ruez, and David K. Seitz, as well as a response from Bobby Benedicto.

essays in this forum

Under Bright Lights Review by Gerry Pratt

Under Bright Lights is an extraordinary and accomplished book that makes a poignant and thoroughly geographical argument about the privileged gay scene in Metro Manila that existed from roughly 2003-2009. The scene was not defined by a street or a district; it was a series of nodes (clubs, bars, commercial developments and private homes) linked through travel in private cars, at an insistent remove from the poverty so evident on streets throughout the city.

Under Bright Lights Review by David K. Seitz

Bobby Benedicto’s "Under Bright Lights: Gay Manila and the Global Scene" is an extraordinary contribution to contemporary debates on globalization, sexuality, and space. Through years of careful ethnographic attention to the clubs, house parties, and hookup and dating sites frequented by Manila’s middle and upper class gay men, Benedicto powerfully demonstrates how an emergent “bright lights scene” dreams of its perpetually deferred arrival at a distinctly modern, global gay “elsewhere,” and how those dreams are haunted by halting neoliberal inequality and racial shame.

Under Bright Lights Review by Derek Ruez

In "Under Bright Lights", Bobby Benedicto offers an incisive account of the lives and spaces of the "bright lights" scene of privileged gay men in Manila. The book productively complicates the place of what he calls the "third world" queer in our critical imaginaries by highlighting the complicity of members of the bright lights scene in the neoliberal capitalist order shaping the conditions of life in Manila.

Under Bright Lights Response by Bobby Benedicto

I wrote this book driven by the sense that the reparative instinct, inasmuch as it has become an instinct and inasmuch as it works defensively against the threat of paranoia, also anticipates objects in advance, also forecloses surprise. The hermeneutics of suspicion may, as Lauren Berlant rightly put it, “always find the mirages and failures for which it looks,” but I was convinced then, as I am now, that the reparative instinct also always finds the ameliorative practices on which it pins its hopes (2011: 123).