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Research

My research focuses on queer and trans* life and politics in India by weaving together perspectives from feminist, trans*, and queer of colour theory, Lacanian psychoanalysis, cultural studies, anthropology, sociology, and South Asian studies. I am particularly interested in research that situates queer and trans* activisms in India within the transnational geopolitics of South Asia and contributes to the wider genre of global queer and trans* of colour critique. I focus on the dialectic of the psychic and the political within instances of queer failure and dreams of queer utopianism. In doing so, I respond to the vexed question of how social and political transformations occur.

My research interests are shaped by my interdisciplinary training, and informed by my role as a researcher-activist with queer feminist and trans* groups across India. My research interests include, but are not limited to, queer and trans* of color theory, transnational feminisms, South Asian studies, the rise of authoritarianism and the role of digital and social media, activist solidarities in/across the Global South, Black feminist thought, theorizations of 'crisis,' and interdisciplinary research methods.

 

Broadly, I am concerned with questions of marginalization, belonging, and queer and trans* survival. In my undergraduate and Master’s years, I used quantitative and qualitative methods in psychology to examine different aspects of how discourses of abnormality shape society. My Masters research, in particular, used critical discourse analysis to critique pervasive mental health and legal frameworks in India from the perspective of trans* persons. My MPhil dissertation focused on lesbian suicides and asked: who is the subject of queer politics? Eventually becoming a book titled Queer Politics in India: Towards Sexual Subaltern Subjects, this research brought together Lacanian psychoanalysis, feminist and queer theory, cultural studies and political theory to engage with questions of queerness and political subjectivity in an interdisciplinary and psycho-social frame. Queer Politics in India remains one of the few books to offer an ethnography of queer feminisms in the Indian context.

Taking off where my book ended, my PhD dissertation expanded and deepened an enquiry of the multiplicities and contradictions of queer and trans* activisms in the subcontinent. My research asked how queer and trans* support for, and resistance to, Hindu nationalism manifests in contemporary India. Going beyond homonationalism as the defining analytic of queer and trans* support for nationalism, in this research I contextualized the histories of queer and trans* activisms in India in order to explain its contemporary disjunctures. Based on ethnographic data and in-depth interviews with queer and trans* activists in New Delhi and Mumbai, I argued that queer and trans* life and praxis is determined by an assemblage of factors. These include transnational circuits of HIV/AIDS funding, a liberalized economy, how desire is shaped by globalization, the recent decriminalization of homosexuality, and previously existing inequalities of caste, class, and gender. These diverse embodiments of queer and trans* politics determine complicity with, and resistance to, Hindu nationalism. In my research, I also demonstrated how crises such as HIV/AIDS and Covid-19 further entrench vulnerabilities among queer and trans* communities who are denied legitimacy, respectability, and access to basic resources. I am expanding on this work at present.

 

Besides Queer Politics in India, I have published in Transgender Studies Quarterly, on transgender politics in a postcolonial setting, and in Annual Review of Critical Psychology, on gendered epistemologies of knowledge. My other publications have focused on ethnographic praxis, on friendship as kinship, and on the gendered nature of mental health in India. I also have an essay currently under review, that focuses on crisis epistemologies.

To learn more about my current or future research, or to ask for access to my published work, please email me. 

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