Gender, Sexuality And The Paradoxes Of Taboo In Middle Class Delhi, India

Other Titles


This research examines the ways in which people in Delhi, India learn, talk and think about gender and sexuality in an environment of taboo. Throughout the work, semistructured interviews are analyzed and triangulated with ethnography and media analysis to investigate people's strategies for transforming their own knowledge. Based on the findings, strategies and recommendations for the promotion of health and well-being are made at the end of each paper. Paper one is concerned with how people learn about and achieve access to public health information regarding sexual and reproductive health (SRH), namely contraception and protection from sexually transmitted infection. Paper two considers what and how people learn about sexual coercion and rape, as well as how they learn about sexual pleasure. It examines long standing structures of patriarchy and local political discourse. The Literature about violence against women (VAW), sexual violence and intimate partner violence (IPV) has proliferated in recent decades, with funders recognizing the costs to the health of women and families. However, literature or information about consensual sex, and sexual pleasure for women remains scarce. The device of frames is used to signify how women are shamed by powerful public figures, and the strategies by which they and their allies speak back and create other narratives. Paper three examines the ways in which people learn about and discuss gender norms and sexualities. Deeply held assumptions about gender and sexuality are situated in their social-historical contexts, including the social construction of binary norms governing males and females which ossified in pre-colonial Europe and colluded with local elite Indian patriarchies. Ethnographic material examines how groups of people challenge normative sexual and gender hierarchies. Queer and feminist interests intersect and conflict as they seek to negotiate and live within a hetero-patriarchal hierarchal system. I investigate, through people's narratives and public events, how both women and queer people are compromised in the binary system, and I examine the scholarship of historical roots and erasures. The gendered effects of taboo are examined along with the paradoxes that emerge as different groups seek to work around and live within hostile structures.

Journal / Series

Volume & Issue



Date Issued




Gender; Sexuality; India


Effective Date

Expiration Date




Union Local


Number of Workers

Committee Chair

Williams,Linda Brooks

Committee Co-Chair

Committee Member

March,Kathryn S
Hirschl,Thomas A

Degree Discipline

Development Sociology

Degree Name

Ph. D., Development Sociology

Degree Level

Doctor of Philosophy

Related Version

Related DOI

Related To

Related Part

Based on Related Item

Has Other Format(s)

Part of Related Item

Related To

Related Publication(s)

Link(s) to Related Publication(s)


Link(s) to Reference(s)

Previously Published As

Government Document




Other Identifiers


Rights URI


dissertation or thesis

Accessibility Feature

Accessibility Hazard

Accessibility Summary

Link(s) to Catalog Record