Assistant Professor of Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and of Anthropology, at Cornell University
Casting religion and sexing gender in South India
3:30pm on Monday, April 18th
GEC, room 1009
How are the politics of caste, gender, religion and sexuality entangled in contemporary India? How are they habited by Dalit women? This talk draws on ethnographic research conducted in Karnataka, South India to consider these questions. In particular, it focuses on three women: a pujari of the Devi Yellamma—a jogati or devadasi; a self-described ‘housewife’ who follows both Hinduism and Buddhism; and a college going convert to Buddhism who leads prayers for young women in her room in the ladies hostel. By dwelling on three key themes within anti-caste feminist studies—epistemology (standpoint), mobility, and sexuality—this talk argues for more nuanced conceptualization of importance of religiosity, the question of agency, and the force of heteronormativity in the field of gender and caste studies.
Lucinda Ramberg is an assistant professor of Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and of Anthropology, at Cornell University. She works at the intersection of several fields including feminist, postcolonial and queer theories; religion and secularism; medicine and the body; and South Asia. Her research projects in South India and the United States have roots in longstanding engagements with the politics of sexuality, gender and religion. Ramberg’s 2014 ethnography, Given to the Goddess: South Indian Devadasis and the Sexuality of Religion,” won 3 national book prizes in 2015 including the Ruth Benedict prize from the Association of Queer Anthropology, the Michelle Rosaldo prize for a first book in Feminist Anthropology, and the Clifford Geertz Prize for the best new book in the Anthropology of Religion. Her current book, provisionally entitled We Were Always Buddhist: Dalit Conversion and Sexual Modernity queries the politics of sexuality, religiosity and postcolonial governance, extending them into questions of embodiment and the uses of history.
Sponsored by the South Asia Faculty Working Group, the Provost’s Committee on LGBTQ Life, the Carolina Asia Center, the Center for Global Initiatives, the UNC Program in Sexuality Studies, the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, the Department of Anthropology, and the Department of Religious Studies.