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CGWS: Seminar

Date: 7 May 2009 Time: 4:30 - 6:00 pm


Cleavage on the Queer Body: Light, Law and a Politics of Ambiguity'

Akshay Khanna

(Department of Anthropology, Edinburgh University)

Thursday 7th May 2009


Bowland North Seminar Room 21

ABSTRACT: The Queer movement in India, I argue in this paper, is engaged in two distinct, yet connected and contesting projects. In the first we attempt to ascribe a sexualness to an abstract citizen-subject. This project is concerned with the recognition of 'sexuality' as an aspect of personhood in a juridical register, and is found most clearly articulated in the legal challenge to Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, the colonial anti-sodomy law that is central to the public face of the movement. In the other project, which is the focus of this paper, claims to citizenship are made by actively divesting the body of sexualness. This, I suggest, is a cleavage that the Queer movement is not simply constrained to produce, but which is as much an effect of the diversity of bodies it claims to speak of, as, and for, and the conditions under which these diverse bodies seek a sexual articulation.

The formal objective of the Queer movement, inasmuch as such an objective can be gleaned, avows itself to the first project - where the 'articulable' or the realm of words, of Law, is prioritised. Yet, negotiations with the law, in Courts and outside them, are done through the play of light, in the realm of 'visibility'. The consideration of the 'visible' or 'see-able' on the same plane as the articulable, I argue allows for a fruitful engagement of the two projects, and allows for the conceptualisation of a politics of ambiguity.


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Centre for Gender and Women's Studies, Sociology


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