Accepted paper:

The politics of sameness and difference in the anthropology of gender and sexual diversity


Adnan Hossain (The University of Amsterdam)

Paper short abstract:

Highlighting sameness and difference in the way gender and sexuality are both studied and understood in anthropology, I contend that the unique critical capacities of queer anthropology needs to be foregrounded to counter the extant marginalization of this subfield.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper, I highlight the politics of gendered and sexual sameness and difference both in the way marginal gender and sexuality are studied and in the ways these studies are understood and received by dominant disciplinary practices of anthropology. For instance, one common assumption among anthropologists not necessarily interested in gender and sexuality is that marginal gender and sexuality are studied by anthropologists inhabiting marginal gender and sexual positions themselves while for others this so called shared sameness is emphasized precisely as a position of advantage that enables situated readings of the marginal gender and sexualities. I contend that both notions of essentialized difference and sameness work to marginalize and de-legitimate gender and sexuality as topics relevant to our understanding of cultural practices and processes and worthy of serious scholarly investigation. Drawing on ethnographic research with the hijras, the male bodied feminine identified subjects in Bangladesh and the reception of my work in diverse institutional settings, I intend to shed light on the politics of knowledge production and questions on and around sameness and difference. I argue that the dominant tendency to view 'queer' anthropology as being relevant only to a minority politics can be countered by foregrounding the critical epistemological capacities of queer anthropology to the discipline of anthropology and beyond.

panel P058
Whatever is happening to the critical study of sexual and gender diversity in anthropology? (European Network of Queer Anthropology)