Women’s Studies, Gender Studies, and LGBT/Queer Studies: Defining and Debating the Subject of Academic Knowledge in India
Women’s Studies is first introduced in Indian academia in the 1970s. There are now more than 150 centres conducting research on women and gender as well as numerous teaching programmes on these topics in India. Research on sexualities and non-heterosexual identities and practices, while less developed, also emerged in the 1990s. As in any academic field, research on Women’s Studies, gender, and sexuality has been marked by epistemic debates, in particular “terminology debates” (i.e., debates about the proper concepts for discussing gender and sexuality in India). Using a corpus of academic texts, course syllabi, and other academic documents as well as 15 interviews with academics involved in Women’s Studies, Gender Studies, and/or research on sexuality in India, this article examines two of these terminology debates. The first concerns the use of the term “Gender Studies” rather than “Women’s Studies”, and the second looks at the relevance of terms such as LGBT and queer to designate non-heterosexual individuals, groups, and practices. In both debates the question of North/South domination and (post)colonialism are central and are also connected to issues of gender, class, and caste domination. Moreover, both debates question the link between academia and feminist/LGBT/queer activism. This article shows that the process of defining the subject of academic knowledge is highly political and embedded in complex power dynamics that are both localized and globalized. It also highlights the epistemic creativity of the knowledge produced in India to discuss women, gender, and non-heterosexuality.
"Women’s Studies, Gender Studies, and LGBT/Queer Studies: Defining and Debating the Subject of Academic Knowledge in India,"
Journal of International Women's Studies: Vol. 23:
2, Article 3.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol23/iss2/3