1st November: Holding some ground on a greasy dancefloor:  Caste, Queerness and South Asian Diaspora in the UK

Wednesday 25 October 2023

Holding some ground on a greasydancefloor:  Caste, Queerness and South Asian Diaspora in the UK

Wednesday 1st November

Arts Seminar Room 17:00

Sweaty, seductive sex club on a Saturday night London, and amidst some raunchy Bollywood music someone whispers to you a shloka. In the nudity of a sauna in Leicester, a stranger who desires you, randomly asks you your caste. We can have weird encounters in most unanticipated ways and in strangest of places – even when they reek of desire, sexuality, and possible freedoms. When I came to England for a short fellowship, I was prepared I might face racial othering, but I wasn’t expecting caste. And yet the first message I received on Grindr asked, ‘Are you a Brahmin?’.

The vagaries of caste are often seen restricted to the South Asian subcontinent, and its diaspora and her queerness only seen through its racialized othering. Using anecdotes and stories from desi queer encounters in the UK, my presentation reveals colonial continuities of caste among South Asian queer lives. While we question dominant framings of sexualities that originate in West as insufficient to explain lives elsewhere, I ask, what happens to the Dalit queer lover when desires among us continue to be coded through upper caste-class framings? Challenging the homogenous idea of a South Asian queer community, this presentation highlights subcontinental geopolitical divisions, religious differences, caste hierarchies, and communal obligations in shaping diasporic queer spaces and subjectivities.


Dhiren Borisa is a Dalit queer activist, poet, and urban sexual geographer, and is currently employed as Assistant Professor at Jindal Global Law school, India. He is presently in UK working on his first monograph as Urban Studies Foundation International fellow and a visiting researcher at University of Sheffield. He is also an honorary visiting fellow at the School of Geography, Geology, and Environment at the University of Leicester, UK. He  attained his Ph.D. from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi on Queer Cartographies of Desires in Delhi. His research primarily focuses in studying caste and class dynamics in sexual mappings and makings of cities from an intersectional and decolonial lens both among queer spaces in India and in diasporic queer worldings.