Gender, Sexual/Other Identities in the Eastern Himalaya


ISBN 978-81-89602-13-0

Introduction: Experiencing, Expressing and Performing 1 Gender/Sexual and Other Identities in the eastern Himalaya
Mona Chettri, Ktien Hima, Nikita Rai

1. Queer Tales from the Hills: Reading Two Inaugural Texts from the Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya
Anil Pradhan

2. Migrant Women Labourers at the borders: The vulnerabilities of seasonal trans-national women labourers in Darjeeling
Yojak Tamang

3. Being Plantation Women in the eastern Himalaya: Experiences from Darjeeling and Sikkim
Babika Khawas

4. The Fate That Comes with Being Born a ‘Cheli Beti’
Rinzing Ongmu Sherpa

5. The ‘Other’ Desires: Exploring Intimate Lives and Sexuality of Disabled and Sorceress Women in Nepali Cinema
Jenisha Singh

6. ‘For Ladies Only’: Neighbourhood Beauty Parlours as Spaces of Desire and Resistance
Ranu Kunwar

7. Intersection of Masculinity and Ethnicity: The Social Construction of Nepali Men in IB Rai’s Fiction in Translation
Dhirendra Kumar Shah

8. Make-Up and the Ethno-Queer Self: Indigeneity and Identity in the eastern Himalaya
Parjanya Sen

9. ‘Inharu Jastai’: Gender Non-Performativity in Anglo-Indian Schools
Nirvan Pradhan

Notes on Contributors vii
Notes on the Editors ix
Acknowledgements xi

This inaugural volume frames questions of identity and belonging in the Eastern Himalaya from the perspective of Gender, Sexual and Other Identities which are often embraced, even celebrated, and yet simultaneously rendered invisible, essentialised and understood through narrow frameworks of pre-existing (and often hypocritical) societal norms. This volume aims to fill in an academic lacuna, whilst simultaneously challenging staid approaches of reading, analysing and writing about the region and the issues within. The volume represents both the dynamism and stillness that is visible and experienced by those in/from the region; while some chapters capture the changing expressions,
experiences and understandings of gender and other identities, others invite us to reflect on our stories, words, actions, and society.
The chapters in this volume examine how our intersectional identities are experienced, expressed and performed. In doing so, it recognises, analyses and even challenges prevailing norms and perceptions on Gender, Sexual and Other Identities in the eastern Himalaya, as we know it.

The Eastern Himalaya Series
In the Eastern Himalaya, place, space, identity and belonging, all seem to be in a state of flux, midway through a process of becoming. The Eastern Himalaya Series is a response to these transformations, an attempt to navigate our path into the future whilst cataloguing our different ways of belonging to the region. Through this Series, we strive to capture the dynamism of the people, place, and politics of/in the region; we strive to showcase our ability to engage with wider thoughts and processes and to tell our stories, ourselves.

The Eastern Himalaya Series aims to contribute to the creation of a framework that celebrates different ways of imagining, reading and belonging to the region. Belonging, however, is a difficult and sometimes, controversial word, emotion and experience. Who gets to belong to the Eastern Himalaya? Who gets to decide? What are the repercussions of belonging, or even desiring to belong? How does one form of belonging affect our other identities and belonging? What are the markers of belonging, especially if they are liminal? Belonging is difficult to mark and measure when boundaries are fluid and shifting. However, fluidity is juxtaposed with fixed, and sometimes archaic values, ideas and ways of being, and seeing the world. The Eastern Himalaya Series can therefore be considered an attempt to acknowledge this inherent juxtaposition, a moment of taking stock, a collective pause to assess changes, and stasis, to identity silos of commonality and sources of resistance.