SURF

Kaamya Talwar Sharma

Examining Queer Subjectivity in Urban India

My research will examine queer subjectivity in urban India, focusing on the role of virtual spaces in the development of queer identities. Through interviews and virtual participant observation, my project will use a sociological, post-constructivist, post-colonial approach to explore what the process of realization of ones non-heterosexuality feels like in urban India. Specifically, how do globalization and class, as well as the associated language, discourses, and interaction with queer spaces, affect the queer urban Indians experience of sexuality? Related questions include how and why online and offline discourses on lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, hijra, kothi, plus (hereon referred to as LGBTQHK+) empowerment differ; how the post-colonial legacy of English speaking affects the process through which LGBTQHK+ individuals negotiate their identity, legitimacy, and visibility; and what the role of Hinglish is in this matter. My research will provide a perspective that is not centred in the West, and that resists the Western liberal construct that the manner in which the West has experienced sexuality in the recent past is the only, and the right, way.

Message to Sponsor

Being able to conduct a SURF research project this summer prompted growth in me in many ways. I am a queer South Asian, and being able to interact with and study activism among queer, urban Desis on social media was both personally and academically enriching. I conducted my very first interviews as a researcher this summer, and was continually amazed by the genuine acuity and talent that many of my subjects possessed. I gained access to a bustling, creative online queer community. More importantly, I can now say that I am part of an ongoing effort to change the axes of power within academia by documenting the stories and experiences of people who are not usually centered in theoretical queer studies work. This summer helped me understand in greater detail the subjectivities of queer folk who look and sound like me, and to make an effort towards true intersectionality. I am very grateful to have been given this opportunity.
  • Major: Sociology
  • Sponsor: Wishek Fund
  • Mentor: Clare Talwalker