Chapter 1. Unsettlement
1. I join forces here with several other feminist scholars who have sought to com-
plicate the notion of patriarchy as relations of in e qual ity produced by sexual diff er-
ence (in this regard, the work of women of color in the United States and postcolonial
feminists working in South Asia has been particularly helpful; for instance, Alexan-
der 2005; Anzaldua and Keating 2002; Combahee River Collective 1984; Grewal and
Kaplan 1994; Mani 1989; Mohanty 1988, 2003; Moraga and Anzaldua 1984, Sangari
and Vaid 1990; Sunder Rajan 1993, 2003). My conception of patriarchy hence refers to
the gendered relations of in e qual ity that exist not just between men and women but
also among women, and as shaped by multiple relations of power. Th us, for instance,
my stories about Omvati, Ashutosh Sen, and Harbhajan Kaur (whom we will meet
shortly) reveal how their lives and subjectivities have been formed through gendered
relations of in e qual ity that have left their imprint on their discourses of family, kin-
ship, and sexuality. Equally, gendered relations of in e qual ity are also refracted by and,
in turn, shape the articulation of caste, class, religious minoritization, and politics of
family. Th us conceptualized, the theme of patriarchal relations of power and in e qual-
ity is threaded through subsequent chapters as well, for instance, in my discussion of
the slippage between the sexual purity of women and the cultural purity of nations in
both the homeland and the diaspora (chapters 2 and 5); of how gender and sexuality
intersect with race and class to constitute Indian grocery stores as social spaces that
are generative of par tic u lar kinds of sensuous knowledges (chapter 3); of the gendered
infl ections of the conjunction of erotic aff ects and commodity aff ects and fears about
the “contamination” of Indian culture (chapter 4); of how gender and sexuality infl ect
neoliberal conceptions of entrepreneurship and growth in contexts of changing as-
pirations of young people (chapter 6); and fi nally, in terms of the profound salience
of gender and sexuality to the construction of regimes of fear and rage in the “post–
September 11” conjuncture in the United States (coda). I am grateful to one of the
anonymous readers of this book for pushing me to clarify this point.
2. Compare with Allison (2012). In this remarkable essay, Allison (2012: 345) de-
scribes social precarity in contemporary Japan in terms of economic decline combined
with an “evisceration of social ties” and a loss of hope in the future. My formulation
of uncertainty (and unsettlement) is in dialogue with Allison’s conceptualization of
precarity but also contrasts with it. As I demonstrate in this book, the uncertainty of
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