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Utopia Interrupted: Indian Sex/Gender Dissident Activism and the Everyday Search for a Life Worth Living

Osella , Caroline (2017) 'Utopia Interrupted: Indian Sex/Gender Dissident Activism and the Everyday Search for a Life Worth Living.' In: Kuldova, Tereza and Varghese, Matthew A., (eds.), Urban Utopias Excess and Expulsion in Neoliberal South Asia. London / New York : Pluto , pp. 227-246. (Palgrave Studies in Urban Anthropology)

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Abstract

Kuldova points out that, “Revealing myths as simplistic or unrealistic does not help, since it does not rob them of their effectivity. Myths, ideologies and illusions are resistant to knowledge. We cultivate them even when we know better. The important question is here: towards what kind of future is this myth pushing us?”. Taking off from this, I discuss ways in which sex/gender activists in India are simultaneously very well aware of problems with globalised liberal mythologies of ‘liberation’ and ‘sexual subjects’ and also caught up in those mythologies via engagements which are at once tactical, mediated and ultimately affective. While trying to maintain a sense of caution and a double-consciousness about what might be possible in Delhi capital or in small-town south India, still it proves impossible not to become drawn into imaginings of a different future for sex-gender dissident subjects. Against a context of decriminalisation and recriminalisation of Section 377, the rise of an emergent queer activism beyond the metropolis, and the growth of campaigns such as Pink chaddi, my (brief) discussion of the Delhi rape-murder and (lengthier) discussion of a Kerala transgender murder will think through some of the ways in which people are surprised, shocked, and wrong-footed by gendered violence. Sometimes it is analysed as unexpected throw back or exceptional spectacular tragic event; sometimes it is taken on as a banale repetition of the ‘same-old same-old’, even amidst the shiny coffee shops; more rarely is gendered and sexual violence understood as incrementally rising exactly alongside the rise of sex-gender ‘freedoms’. In this paper I will pick my way through the rise of utopias of desire, their vicious shredding, and the hesitant and wounded re-emergence of more cautious affective economies of hope and solidarity.

Item Type: Book Chapters
SOAS Departments & Centres: Legacy Departments > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of Anthropology and Sociology
Legacy Departments > Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Centre for Gender Studies
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ISBN: 9783319476223
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): 10.1007/978-3-319-47623-0
Depositing User: Caroline Osella
Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2016 15:04
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/21441

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