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Assistant Professor, Gender, Women's & Sexuality Studies, University of Iowa

I have a PhD in Feminist Studies and Development Studies from the University of Minnesota, and have also been active in working with community-based organizations in India that advocate sexuality- and health-related rights of GLBTQ groups. My dissertation project, titled “˜Globalizing through the vernacular: Indian lower class sexual minorities in gender/sexual transnationalism’, examines contemporary globalizing processes as manifested in the consolidation and institutionalization of 'sexual minorities' in the movement for gender/sexual rights and sexual health in India. Through a combination of ethnography, oral history and archival research, I study the interaction between inter-regional networks and subcultures of lower class gender/sexually variant people on one hand, and transnational networks of non-governmental organizations and funders promoting LGBT rights and HIV-AIDS prevention on the other. I am particularly interested in how these interactions produce hegemonic rubrics of political intelligibility and gender/sexual identity with attendant forms of exclusion and marginalization, and establish scalar hierarchies between “˜cosmopolitan’/“˜transnational’ and “˜regional’/“˜local’/“˜vernacular’ discourses of difference and dissidence. I ask how such emergent and contested hegemonies in LGBT movements correspond with labor practices and hierarchies in the transnational development industry, and (more broadly) with changing figurations of political economy and liberal democracy in the contemporary moment of liberalization. Thus, my research inquires into the role of seemingly peripheral or “˜local’ communities, networks, and subcultures in “˜global queering’ – the aspirational expansion of liberal democratic discourses of gender/sexual identity and rights – and simultaneously interrogates whether dominant models of development have been uniformly empowering for such lower class groups. Through this specific locus, I am interested in exploring the larger contradictions of transnational power structures, examining how they may simultaneously depend on and marginalize non-metropolitan forms of dissidence and difference, which I term the asymmetric co-implication of the 'cosmopolitan' and the 'vernacular'. I am also engaged in a second project on the changing aesthetics and production practices of Indian film music, which explores how popular music in contemporary India mediates (trans)national narratives of citizenship and identity, especially as pertaining to upper/middle class Indian and diasporic subjects. I am particularly interested in how film music constructs or contests narratives of hybridity and cosmopolitanism in relation to provincialized musical and cultural forms. I try to balance these academic interests with being a musician and composer, tempering the unsettling praxis of creation with an understanding of how music might contribute to the congealment of unequal social practices.