Queer visibility stands at a crossroads in India today. Visibility for queerness is manifold compared to even a decade back. Indian filmmaking today has undergone a transformation. While more overt representations are happening, many of these continue to be problematic in various ways. Pride marches and other queer-marked events have spread across various parts of India, though still mainly restricted to cities and urban locations. However, even in this age of greater visibility, those who transgress their perceived gender publicly and visibly are the ones who are most at risk of social ostracism, violence and ridicule. Ostracisms operate within queer spaces, as well. These multiple and intersectional layers of subject positions create a complex web of problems and privileges. Moreover, not everyone who comes under the queer umbrella considers themselves necessarily affected by Section 377—a British-imposed law that criminalizes same-sex relations in India. The fissures and gaps are many.
To gain insight into the evolution of queer visibility in recent decades, I use ethnographic interviews with various queer folks based in Delhi and Bombay. I delve into films that have been created around queer themes while also analyzing the everyday negotiations that queer folks make in their particular surroundings. I also focus on queer women’s everyday life experiences—a subject on which comparatively less has been written. I take a snapshot of how they navigate life today within the Indian heteropatriarchal socio-cultural milieu.
I conclude that enabling and empowering processes need to continue among various stakeholders as well as with other sections of the general public. Only then can effective intersectional alliances be forged in the fight for basic human dignity and equality. I hope that this dissertation will help encourage and extend the political and cultural conversations about queer representations and lived realities in India.
|Advisor:||Sanders, Stephanie A.|
|Commitee:||Bose, Purnima, Dodson, Michael S., Parameswaran, Radhika|
|School Location:||United States -- Indiana|
|Source:||DAI-A 79/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||LGBTQ studies, South Asian Studies, Gender studies, Film studies|
|Keywords:||Queer India, Queer Indian films, Queer independent films in India, Queer women India|
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