Questions of mobility and belonging: diasporic experiences queering female identities in South Asian contexts

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One dominant narrative about diaspora and queer identity concerns the
liberating potential of the experience of dis-placement which enables
both the rejection of the taboos and constraints that inform one’s sociocultural
background and the articulation and enactment of one’s queer
identity. In this article I address this narrative by analysing two very different
kinds of text, dealing with dis-placement and the enactment of queer
identity. The first is anthropologist Evelyn Blackwood’s (1995) account,
‘Falling in love with an-Other lesbian: Reflections on identity in fieldwork’;
the second is British South Asian lesbian playwright Maya
Chowdhry’s play ‘Monsoon’ (1993) which depicts the protagonist’s
relation with another woman on a trip ‘home’ from Britain to India.
These texts’ engagement with the issues of diaspora and queer raises a
series of important issues about power, agency, embodiment, and sexual
practice in ways that are remarkably similar. Both texts involve journeys
from the west to South Asian countries, same-sex relationships with local
‘insiders’ in a context where such relationships are taboo, complex power
relations between the protagonists, and issues of the relative cultural and
social mobilities of the protagonists. Liberation, in so far as it occurs, is
here experienced in only very limited ways and at a cost. These texts
thus challenge some of the assumptions regarding the liberating potential
of diaspora, and offer a rather more complex and nuanced account of the
inter-relationship between diaspora and queer identity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)731-756
Number of pages25
JournalTextual Practice
Issue number4
Early online date26 Aug 2011
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2011


  • queer diaspora; lersbian identity; Maya Chowdhry; Evelyn Blackwood; South Asia

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