privacy policy

Construction of the ‘Hijra/Kinnar ’ (Eunuch) Identity as/in a Transgressing Body


· Leena Sharma Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar (Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India)


07/26 | 17:30-17:50 UTC+2/CEST


Based on the historical/state archives and oral personal narratives from Hijra Gharanas in Rajasthan and Gujarat, the paper contextualises socio-political formation of the Hijra body facilitated by the historical construction of the transgressing Indian state post-colonially. Hijra Gharanas interestingly were induced not during Colonial era but when British decamped from the Indian Territory, (when the administrative power came to be exercised by Congress Government merging all Princely states to Indian Subcontinent). Kinnars were detached from palaces to respective Havelis handed by Kings who were no more the administrative units of power. The occupational identity of Hijras is associated with ‘Bazaar-Basti Maangna’ (asking alms from the market and township to survive) in areas that were bestowed to them by kings, ‘before the dissolution of their rule’. The Gharanas are located marginally (geographically and based on sexual preferences) except some very wealthy ones thus inducing ‘a discourse’ in the course of power. The paper attempts to link both Pre-Colonial legacy and local histories and/or voices to study ‘construction of the marginal (Hijra/Kinnar) identity’, i.e. Kinnar as a metonymy of a transgressing body (the state as a body that is adept to adaptation and the physical body of a hijra that gets transformed from a gay/transvestite to a hijra novice and to retain this position, a transsexual with a castrated penis). The paper also examines how Hijra Gharanas are both ‘marginal’ and ‘mainstream’ following hijra’s societal locations interfacing between multiple dimensions of history, memory and gendered identity concerning the state and law.