A F T E R L I V E S
Uncovering sexuality’s constitutive effects on states through struggles
playing out in the Indian context is the central charge of this book. De-
naturalizing the image of a measured monolithic entity, it suggests that
the mandate to regulate sexuality helps reproduce states and that cares
and considerations related to sexuality impact the spaces, discursive
practices, and rationalities of governance. Spotlighting the more than
decade-long struggle to decriminalize homosexuality through fieldwork
conducted among state institutions, sexuality rights organizations, and
activist networks, this investigation underscores sexuality’s salience in
shifting the grounding framework for understanding the state.
Coming to grips with sexuality’s effects on states cautions against as-
sumptions about the declining relevance of states as a result of neoliberal
policies or transnational forms of governmentality. Indeed focusing on
the antisodomy law and the shutting down of dance bars indicates the
tenacity of sexual discourses, practices, and imaginations that continu-
ally breathe life into the idea of the state. State-based governance may
be receding in some areas, but sexuality’s putative threat to lineage and
inheritance, marriage and family, work productivity, the socialization of
children and their conduct, life and heath helps perform states ontolog-
ically as coherent, rational, asexual, and indispensable.
Pressing against ontologies of the state draws attention to the discur-
sive practices that give it substance and force. Focusing on them during
visits to ncrb yielded fresh insights into the potency of routinized bu-
reaucratic procedures, how sexual concerns parse statistics and how
they structure the agency’s spaces and interpersonal relations. Similarly
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