Naisargi N. Dave
Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Toronto
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(Duke University Press, 2012) Queer Activism in India: A Story in the Anthropology of Ethics shows how a new social world of lesbian and queer activism in India has come to be. Drawing on over two years of fieldwork with queer activists, Naisargi N. Dave traces the critical events and everyday practices that constitute queer activism in India. Through focusing on extraordinary historical moments as well as everyday politics of care and critique, Dave theorizes activism as an ethical practice of problematization, invention, and creative relational practice. Dave tracks the emergences and closures and reformulations of such an ethics through a range of historically linked settings: a lesbian letter-writing network in the early 1990s, a ‘health club’ where married women would meet, a lesbian helpline and a splinter queer advocacy collective, same-sex desiring activists in the women’s movement, and rights groups that took to the streets as a response to a sense of exile. This provocative and dynamic book demonstrates how activism is not only a kind of ethics but is affective through and through, emerging in the confrontation between what is previously unimaginable and the world as it is.