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Legalizing SexSexual Minorities, AIDS, and Citizenship in India$
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Chaitanya Lakkimsetti

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781479810024

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479810024.001.0001

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Challenging “Bare Life”

Challenging “Bare Life”

Chapter:
(p.53) 2 Challenging “Bare Life”
Source:
Legalizing Sex
Author(s):

Chaitanya Lakkimsetti

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9781479810024.003.0003

This chapter draws on Giorgio Agamben’s concept of “bare life” to show how prior to HIV/AIDS, sexual minorities experienced the state only through “raw power,” where rampant violence and abuse were the norm and the state freely consigned individuals to death by depriving them of resources. The management of “risk” in the light of the HIV/AIDS epidemic brought attention to the violence faced by sexual minorities, especially arbitrary police violence supported by criminal laws. During the earlier phases of the epidemic, peer educators and outreach workers—who were drawn from “high-risk” groups themselves—faced challenges and even violence in reaching out to their peers. Even carrying condoms for outreach purposes was seen as evidence of “criminal” sexual activity. This tension between peer educators and police reveals internal contradictions in the state; peer educators, who are at the cusp of state juridical and biopower, bring this contradiction in the state to the foreground.

Keywords:   bare life, state violence, juridical power, biopower, HIV/AIDS, peer educators, political subjectivities, sex workers, transgender persons, hijras

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