Department of Anthropology

Guest Speaker: Dr. Mathangi Krishnamurthy

"Navigating the Body Multiple: Biomedicine, genetics and sexual identity in the lives of CAH patients"

Mon, November 26, 2018 | SAC 5.118

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

This paper investigates the ways in which new and nascent genetic diagnostic technologies in urban Indian engage with, produce, and assign sex in case of newborns exhibiting a spectrum of conditions known as Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH). CAH is a collection of genetic conditions that clinically manifests itself by way of atypical genitalia, mainly in females, but also in males, often resulting in surgical intervention to produce a more typically sexed appearance.

Dr. Krishnamurthy looks into the ways in which new transnational genetic technologies, in cohort with clinical diagnoses and consultation sessions between geneticists, doctors, psychiatrists and parents, evaluate normality and abnormality vis-à-vis sexuality and gender. Using ethnographic fieldwork conducted since 2014 at a diagnostic lab and among doctors, patients, and families of patients in Pune, India, she examines the difficult translations between transnational certainties of identity as intersex in many cases of CAH, societal expectations of gendered and sexed bodies in urban India, and seemingly dislocated and scientific genetic accounts of normality and naming.  In the process, she locates questions of language, and discourse, at the intersection of body and technology, in order to provide an archive of moving bodies. She argues that an archive such as this may produce yet another site to think about the dangerous life of multiplicity and the many possibilities of gender and sexuality.

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