Friday, February 22, 2008

Delhi Sexuality Reading Group

The purpose of this blog is to provide a virtual parallel to the SRG. While we will actually meet as a group, this forum may provide a venue for ongoing engagement. Or, maybe we post the initial seeds of conversation here and continue the more rigorous debates in actual meetings.
The pitfalls of this forum are obvious; not all may have access to it all the time; initial enthusiasm will give way to listless participation leading to eventual demise; etc. These are very valid concerns. I hope we will engage with these and find a way as we move ahead.

Like in the parallel actual group, let us first share some thoughts towards a 'manifesto' for the forum. Here I reproduce the note from Aryan, formulating some mechanics and objectives for the reading group, which will serve as a useful point of departure:

"Some of us have been feeling the need to get together and read and discuss material on sexuality for a while now. Chaitanya, Veronica, Aryan and Jaya met to discuss this possibility. We are putting down some ideas, which we could all meet and discuss. We felt that the group should not be too large so that the discussions can be intensive. The idea is not to be exclusive, but keeping the group small, at least at this initial stage, we felt was important."
To understand and explore dimensions of sexuality as it relates to working on issues of sexuality.
1. Each month a member will take responsibility for the study group and provide copies of the readings for the other participants the month prior. The member will prepare a list of discussion questions to facilitate reflection among group members. Every six months, we will select topics of interest and readings for the following six months.
2. Group norms: participants must read the readings if they are to attend the sessions; we will be rigourous and intensively engage with each others views, without being judgemental and aggressive.
3. In order to ensure that the group is of a manageable size so that everyone engages, there will be a maximum of 13 people. Guests and people outside of Delhi will be invited as per agreement of the group.
4. Participants will meet together on a monthly or bi-monthly basis, depending on travel and work schedules.

Possible themes that will be covered, include: Queer Theory and Feminism; the idea of queer and the difference between identity politics and queer politics; the history of queer politics and the intersection with feminism, caste, race and religious constructions; trafficking and sex work; sexual empowerment (beyond pleasure); heteronormativity and the social construction of heterosexuality.

The above formulation can be taken almost as is, leaving aside the meeting frequency and participant limitation. But let us discuss. Maybe it is a good idea to limit participation to start with even in a virtual medium like this.

Also, do we want to make any emendations to the above objectives, activities, and themes?
For example, the objective of the group needs more elaboration:

"To understand and explore dimensions of sexuality as it relates to working on issues of sexuality."
What is it saying? Isn't it a tautology?
Please share your thoughts.

The next step would then be to identify the text and theme for the first discussion.