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Maria Tonini

phd student

I am a doctoral candidate at the department of Gender Studies. My dissertation is tentatively called “Young people’s queer sexuality in Contemporary India”.

Thesis abstract: Over the last years, the recognition of India’s queers has been the focus of numerous contestations as a result of the complex developments around Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalizes “carnal acts against the order of nature”. The section had been partially repealed in 2009 by the Delhi High Court, only to be reinstated in full by the Supreme Court at the end of 2013. In my thesis, I focus on the everyday lives of young queer people (18 to 25 year old) living in Delhi in the period between the two judgments. Focusing on a window of time where same-sex sexualities had been officially recognized for the first time, this thesis raises questions about how recognition and sexual identity are lived and experienced in practice in a period characterized simultaneously by high hopes and pervading insecurity.

The situated perspective I favour in my thesis sheds light on the ways in which young people negotiate between their desire to be recognized as queers and the concomitant desire to participate in relations of reciprocity in different contexts, such as the family, peer networks, and the law. Through an analysis of data collected during several fieldwork periods between 2009 and 2012 in Delhi, I show how recognition emerges as an unstable and negotiable element in a cluster of desires, attachments, and aspirations that young queers must balance in their everyday efforts to live a “liveable life”.  


Aside from working on my dissertation, I teach several undergraduate courses at the department (Culture and Media, Globalization and Migration, Introduction to Gender Studies among others).

Between 2013/2015 I have been an exchange lecturer at the department of Geography, Delhi University, within the Linnaeus-Palme exchange programme.


My broad research interests are: queer studies, globalization, theories of representation, ethnography, ethics.


E-mail: maria.tonini [at]

Senior lecturer

Department of Gender Studies

+46 46 222 36 60



Department of Gender Studies
Visiting address: Allhelgona Kyrkogata 14, House M, Lund
Postal address: Box 117, 221 00 Lund, Sweden
Phone +46 46-222 00 00 (operator)
Fax: 046-222 40 04

Faculty of Social Sciences