Department of Asian Studies
Department of Asian Studies

Guest Speaker: Mathangi Krishnamurthy on "Navigating the Body Multiple: Biomedicine, genetics and sexual identity in the lives of CAH patients"

Mon, November 26, 2018 | SAC 5.118, UT Austin Campus

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Guest Speaker: Mathangi Krishnamurthy on

This paper investigates the ways in which new and nascent genetic diagnostic technologies in urban India 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. 

I look 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, I examine 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, I locate questions of language, and discourse, at the intersection of body and technology, in order to provide an archive of moving bodies. I argue 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. 

Mathangi Krishnamurthy is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Madras. She holds a PhD in anthropology from The University of Texas at Austin, and was an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. 

Her areas of interest include the anthropology of work and gender, medical anthropology, urban studies, globalization, and affective labour. Her new book "1-800-Worlds: The Making of the Indian Call Centre Economy" published by OUP in 2018 chronicles the labour practices, life-worlds, and media atmospheres of Indian call centre workers, and locates them within the socio-political context of the new Indian middle classes. She is currently pursuing a project on bodily imaginations in relation to genetic diagnostics.

Sponsored by: South Asia Institute, Department of Anthropology

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