ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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'Sexual States' and the Queer Struggle in India

Sexual States: Governance and the Struggle to Decriminalize Homosexuality in India by Jyoti Puri, Hyderabad: Orient BlackSwan, 2016; pp 222, ₹895.

Several recent anthropological writings have challenged the understanding that the state is unified, autonomous and gender neutral, and have instead brought the state’s plurality, fluidity and translocality to attention (Sharma and Gupta 2006). In doing so, these works have complicated the interpretation that state sovereignty is compromised by forces of globalisation. These ethnographies of the state pay close attention to the banal, routine and repetitive everyday bureaucratic practices of state institutions, and demonstrate how “the effect of the state is produced and reproduced” (Sharma and Gupta 2006). The leitmotif of this book by Puri is her conception of “sexual states” which connotes a passionate, affective and inconsistent subjectivity that informs the state’s regulation of sexuality to “account for the idea and inevitability of states especially when they are in flux” (p 6).

Sexual Subjectivities of States

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