Queer activism as governmentality: regulating lesbian lives in India

Presented by Srila Roy

Date: 
Monday, 23 October, 2017 - 15:00

In this paper, which draws from a book manuscript in progress on feminist/queer politics in India, I show how ‘activism’ is informed by multiple rationalities and techniques of governing the self and other. Activism is a conduct of conduct that has as its object the transformation of selves and society. In queer activism, we see the very intimate nature of a project of working on the self. The queer activists I consider – mostly lesbian women involved in lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues – employ a range of practices and techniques to enhance the scope of personal and political transformation. Such practices and their underlying rationalities are both hegemonic and counter-hegemonic with normalizing and non-normalizing effects. At the heart of these queer governmentalities is this question: how to live, as a queer Indian woman? In setting the terms not just of queer politics but also of queer liveability, I am most interested in what kinds of life and conduct queer activism renders in/commensurate with its activist ethics and practices, as these materialize and transform over distinct temporal-spatial registers and (re)produce global and domestic hegemonies.

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