Queer Activism as Queer Governmentality: Regulating Lesbian Lives in Eastern India
In this talk, Srila Roy (University of the Witwatersrand) will draw on her long-term research into a queer feminist organisation in eastern India to show some of the manifestations and implications of queer governmentality in the disciplinary production and regulation of the conduct and lives of lesbian subjects.
Srila Roy argues that queer or counter-heteronormative struggles in India do not simply ‘protect people from the intrusions of governance’ via the state, as Jyoti Puri has recently put it. NGOs and CBOs have played key roles in the governmentalization of sexual identities – or their reification into categories of governance – for the purposes of managing same-sex population groups. As elsewhere in the world, queer activists in India have also become implicated in such practices or technologies of sexual governance.
Only recently provided with material and institutional support from transnational channels, lesbian groups are new entrants to this web of governmentality. Their inclusion into state-led technologies of sexual governance, in particular, also translates into a reproduction of the hierarchies upon which such inclusion is premised; hierarchies that pertain to gender, sexuality and class and caste in the Indian context.
Srila Roy is Associate Professor at University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.