privacy policy

16 | Governing and Representing Gender and Sex(uality) in South Asia – (Re-)Negotiating Lakshman Rekha

While classical texts impose a rather narrowly defined circle (Lakshman rekha), the past decades of “modernising” the sub-continent have considerably widened such restrictive modes of governance. In multi-disciplinary perspectives, we both address such changes in governance and explore how media and communication technology are enabling the crossing and/or the policing of such borders.


· Elvira Graner South Asia Institute (Heidelberg, Germany)
· Samita Sen Cambridge University (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
· Deimantas Valanciunas Vilnius University (Vilnius, Lithuania)
· Clelia Clini Loughbourough University (London, United Kingdom)


· 07/27 | 09:00-10:30 UTC+2/CEST
· 07/27 | 11:00-12:30 UTC+2/CEST

Long Abstract

During the past decades, gender relations in South Asia have undergone significant changes. Moving away from a rather narrowly defined circle (Lakshman rekha) new policies and forms of communication strongly aimed at counterbalancing these traditional norms of regulating gender. This panel on the one hand addresses the changes initiated by crucial policies, such as inheritance rights, abolishing child marriage, aiming at inclusive education, and supporting health rights. By doing so, it epitomises governance, where gendered space is constantly being re-negotiated but also it portrays the vast social disparities when implementing these policies. On the other hand, we address sexuality from a media perspective: how do different media (films, television, popular literature) represent sexual relationships across (imagined and real) national, religious, caste and gender boundaries? (Think of Ek Ladki Ko Dekha, the first Bollywood’s lesbian rom-com, but also of the perpetuation of the Love-Jihad myth). And how do communication technologies (social networks, dating apps etc.) enable the crossing and/or the policing of such borders? By adopting a multidisciplinary perspective, we will showcase the diverse but also ambivalent and contradictory ways sexuality is explored, negotiated and contested. We welcome papers addressing these topics from several South Asian countries.