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'Lost Before it Was Found: The LBT Moment in Indian LGBT Activism'

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Location: Ramphal 1.03
The Queer History Reading Group and the Centre for the Study of Women and Gender, Warwick, invite you to a lecture by Poorva Rajaram (Delhi) on
'Lost Before it Was Found: The LBT Moment in Indian LGBT Activism'

Date: 9 May 2019
Venue: Ramphal, R1.03, 4-6pm

Chair: Dr Laura Schwartz (History, Warwick); Discussant: Dr Daniel Luther (Sociology, Warwick)
This talk draws on the speaker's own experiences of LGBT and feminist activism in India. She will 'descriptively map out and then analyse the two and half decade long career of activism that took place under the collective banner of LBT (Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender). From a period beginning roughly in the 1990s, 'LBT' activists and groups often met as a separate stream. Yet, this history is not particularly well-documented or well-known partly because LBT activists maintained a distance from the international NGO-backed, gay-male led campaign to repeal the sodomy law, Section 377, in India.
In these spaces, we tried to sharpen our understandings of compulsory heterosexuality, forced marriage within religious community and caste, activist over-dependence on the law and the global AIDS-funding paradigm. We also addressed immediate questions like economic livelihoods, crisis intervention, suicide-prevention and the possibility of an autonomous trans activism. Since we had no obvious history to draw upon, much of our labour was focussed on creating a new vocabulary to describe and understand our situation. We had to borrow and transform available activist vocabularies from the human rights world, lesbian subcultures in the west, global marxism, queer theorising from academia and the Indian women’s movement. At a moment when all of us are witnessing the dismantling of the historical experiment that was 'LBT' activism, instead of being content with simple memorialisation or a narrative of loss, I want to reflect on how this history can be creatively mobilised to grapple with political futures.'
Poorva Rajaram is a writer and a co-organiser of the Bangalore Queer Film Festival. She is also a PhD research scholar at the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She used to work as a journalist and co-founded The Ladies Finger, an online women's zine.

This event is open to all. Refreshments will be provided.

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