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Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Governing Intimacies is a five-year, multi-institutional and multi-locational research project housed in the School of Social Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. It intends to build new scholarship and a new generation of scholars of gender and sexuality in India and East and South Africa.

Rather than treating gender as a universal category, with familiar contours, such as heteronormativity and male power, the project seeks to research the ways in which gender emerges in particular forms in postcolonial societies. Participants will theorise gender in various manifestations – as identity, as regulatory force, as mode of exploitation, as political resource and as political practice – in East and South Africa and India. Governing Intimacies aims to explore how gender was made as a category of meaning in colonial and postcolonial contexts, using the lens of “intimacy”. The project will focus on forms and conditions of intimacy, taking the view that the state is itself made in these everyday intimate interactions. Some important topics that the rubric of “Governing Intimacies” will thus address include sexuality, space, and the law.

The project includes universities in South Africa, Uganda, and India. In India, the principal partner is the Centre for Studies in Gender and Sexuality (CSGS), Ashoka University.

The purpose of the research meeting, to be held on September 5-6 at the Indian International Centre in New Delhi, is to generate interest around the project, while bringing together its grantees to reflect on their work in conversation with scholars, writers, and activists working in the field.


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