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Diana Mulinari

Diana Mulinari


Diana Mulinari

The Ambiguities of Recognition : Young Queer Sexualities in Contemporary India


  • Maria Tonini

Summary, in English

What does recognition mean for people whose sexuality has for a long time been criminalised? 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 criminalises ‘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 The Section had been partially repealed in 2009 by the Delhi High Court, only to be reinstated in full by the Supreme Court at the end of 2013.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 this 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. The questions that guide my thesis are: in what ways does legal recognition (or lack thereof) interact with the everyday life of queer people? How do young queer people relate to the idea of being recognised for their sexuality? What possibilities for recognition are articulated in the space between the official letter of the law and people’s everyday lives? And what is recognition made of, from the perspective of young queers?
Focusing on a window of time where same-sex sexualities had been officially recognised for the first time, this thesis raises questions about how recognition, sexuality, and subjectivity are lived and experienced in practice in a period characterised 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 recognised 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 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 find a viable way to live that allows them not to deny their sexuality and, at the same time, to be included in social relations.


  • Department of Gender Studies

Publishing year




Document type



Lund University


  • Gender Studies


  • Recognition
  • Queer
  • gender-studies
  • Sexuality
  • India
  • Youth




  • Helle Rydström
  • Diana Mulinari


  • ISBN: 978-91-7623-777-9
  • ISBN: 978-91-7623-776-2

Defence date

13 May 2016

Defence time


Defence place

Kulturens hörsal, Tégnersplatsen, Lund


  • Jyoti Puri (Professor)