Digital Queer Spaces in India: Interrogating, Identity, Belonging and Nationalism in Postcolonial India.
Contemporary Indian sexual identities are constructed out of the multiple effects of tradition, modernity, globalisation and colonialism. The Indian identity itself is a patchwork of the colonial ethos and a constant battle between the binaries of tradition versus modernity and normative versus the alternative. The nation as we understand it is constructed on the basis of a commonality which ‘binds’ its citizens, and also banishes and expels those who do not conform to this commonality. Within this logic of disenfranchisement I firmly place the Indian queer male. This thesis examines the online ‘queer’ male community in India that has been formed as a result of the intersection of certain historical events and ruptures caused by the shifting political, media and social landscapes of urban India. It explores how queer identities are formed in virtual spaces and how the existence of such spaces challenge and critique Indian nationalism.
Within this approach, this thesis makes a significant contribution to knowledge. Widely available scholarship has explored the historical, literary and social debates on queer sexualities in India. To reach a more holistic understanding of contemporary Indian queer sexualities it is necessary to engage with the digital landscape, after all India’s global power stems from its digital development. By looking at the multiple ways that the queer male community engages with the digital medium, I illustrate the multifaceted, complex and sometimes contradictory ways in which this community understands, accesses and performs their sexual identities within the context of the nation and their local space. This thesis combines textual and visual analysis with empirical data collected through field research in India on online forums and websites Planetromeo, Pink Party Kolkata and Queer Campus, as well as engaging with individuals in offline spaces in New Delhi and Kolkata.
This PhD research is funded through the University of the Arts London International Graduate Studentship. I completed my MA in English and Cultural Studies from the University of Westminster (for which I was awarded a full scholarship by the department) and a PgCert in Teaching and Learning from the University of West London which lead to a Fellowship in the Higher Education Academy. In addition to my PhD research I am also an Associate Lecturer in the college, teaching on the undergraduate and postgraduate media and cultural studies pathway. Previously I have been a Visiting Lecturer at University of West London and University of Westminster, and more recently I was made a fractional (0.2) Research Assistant on the EPSRC funded project 'Reaching Out Online' at the University of Sussex. I was also awarded the Sir Peter Holmes Memorial Award by the Royal Society for Asian Affairs in 2013 to conduct fieldwork in India. Parts of this research was published in the journal Asian Affairs (Taylor and Francis/Routledge).
- Rohit K Dasgupta (forthcoming). Queering the Cyberspace in India: Parties, Activism and Advocacy. In Christopher Pullen (Ed.). Queer Youth and Media. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
- Rohit K Dasgupta and K Moti Gokulsing (Eds.) (2014). Masculinity and Its Challenges in India. <http://www.mcfarlandbooks.com/book-2.php?id=978-0-7864-7224-6> Jefferson, NC: Mcfarland. ISBN: 978-0-7864-7224-6.
- Rohit K Dasgupta (2013). Launda Dancers: The Dancing Boys of India.Asian Affairs: Journal of the Royal Society for Asian Affairs. 44 (3). ISSN: 0306-8374
Conference Papers include:
- ‘100 Years of Indian Cinema’ at the Royal Society for Asian Affairs on 07 June, 2013‘
- Dostana and Queer Framing in Indian Cinema’ in the AHRC Global Queer Cinema Symposium at the University of Sussex, 05- 07 April, 2013
- ‘Queer Masculinity, Postcolonial Anxieties,’ Brighton and Sussex Sexualities Network 6th Annual Conference on Global Sexualities: Local Identities and Sexualities, University of Sussex, Sussex on September 13, 2012
- ‘The Curious Case of Section 377,’ The Subaltern and the Sahib Conference, University of Leeds, Leeds on July 06-07, 2012