Understanding South Asian queerness through a Decolonial Lens

Location: Sussex | Map
Language: English

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As courtrooms become sites of sexual freedom through fighting colonial era laws or seeking rights for same sex marriages, and this which is often presented as a decolonial movement, I want to remind that it is far from it. In its moment of glory, it erases violent caste histories that continue to characterize South Asian queer lives. It produces what it believes is the queer subject. In its attempt to present a homogenous queer figure that fights the British colonial pasts, it resorts to entrenched and everyday caste violence to sustain itself. It brings to surface a celebration of past which is also a celebration of caste. From how desires are themselves coded and practiced in everyday – from streets, homes, dance floors, and dating Apps; what assimilative practices are demanded from us the ‘others’? What happens to the Dalit queer lover and their desires? And can a project of decolonizing sexualities ever be complete without simultaneously de-brahmanising it? This presentation builds on everyday embodied practices of survival and deploys storytelling as a decolonial praxis. We wed stories from England and Dalit queer experiences in India to showcase the continuity of coloniality through practices of caste – in hope for a collective challenge, and for change. Towards a de-colonial praxis of hope and healing.

Dr. Dhiren Borisa is a Dalit queer activist, poet, and an urban sexual geographer, and is currently employed as Assistant Professor at Jindal Global Law school, India. He is also an honorary visiting fellow at School of Geography, Geology and Environment at University of Leicester, UK. Dr. Borisa attained his PhD from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi on Queer Cartographies of Desires in Delhi. His research engages with sexual mappings and makings of cities from an intersectional and decolonial lens both among queer spaces in India and in diasporic queer worldings.

Effie Makepeace is just finishing her PhD at Sussex which uses theatre workshops as a queer, collaboratory research method with groups of women in Malawi and the UK to explore the issue of power. She has been working with communities using theatre as a tool for reflection, expression and learning since 2008.

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"Before the USF senior fellowship, I ran a real risk of drowning in University administration and management responsibilities as I entered the ‘mid-career wildernness’. The fellowship reinvigorated my capacity, ideas and track record in research – and helped catapult me from mid- to senior career."

Professor Donald Houston, Senior Research Fellowship

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