Queering Emotion in South Asia

Biographical Narratives of Gay Men in Odisha, India

In: Asian Journal of Social Science
Jayaprakash MishraIndian Institute of Technology Hyderabad, Sangareddy, India

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A paucity of scholarship on emotions in South Asia through a queer lens prevails, as the field is relatively new, and thus, majorly normative. Discussions around emotions, particularly guilt, remain heteronormative. The act of queering emotion not only challenges the dominant gendered affective discourse, but also proposes an alternative framework to understand and elucidate emotions pertinent to queer lives in South Asia. The study analysed ethnographic accounts of 32 gay men from the Eastern Indian state of Odisha. The objectives of this study are threefold. One, it examines the validity of the hypothesis that guilt among gay men is not just an internal orientation, but can be induced by people’s complicitous actions. Two, it uncovers how guilt based on “reciprocity” is roused among gay men in a social system (Lebra, 1971). Society urges gay men to repay their parents, siblings, and caretakers by fulfilling their heteronormative expectations. Three, it foregrounds how gay men respond when apprised of their indebtedness to individuals. The study examines emotions in South Asia through a queer lens by investigating the complex manner in which the queer subjects negotiate with their affectual spaces, viz. social institutions of family and other alternative kinship structures.

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