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Narrating Identity: the Employment of Mythological and Literary Narratives in Identity Formation Among the Hijras of India

Author:

Jennifer Ung Loh

SOAS, University of London, GB
About Jennifer

PhD Candidate

Department of the Study of Religions

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Abstract

This article explores how the hijras and kinnars of India use mythological narratives in identity-formation. In contemporary India, the hijras are a minority group who are ostracised from mainstream society as a result of their non-heteronormative gender performances and anatomical presentations. Hijras suffer discrimination and marginalisation in their daily lives, forming their own social groups outside of natal families and kinship structures. Mythological and literary narratives play a significant role in explaining and legitimising behavioural patterns, ritual practices, and anatomical forms that are specific to hijras, and alleviating some of the stigma surrounding this identity. In this article, I focus on certain narratives that hijras employ in making sense of and giving meaning to their lives, including mythological stories concerning people of ambiguous gender and myths associated with Bahuchara Mata. I argue that these ontological narratives serve to bring hijra identity into being and play a crucial role in constructing and authenticating hijra identity in modern India.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/rg.8259
How to Cite: Ung Loh, J., (2014). Narrating Identity: the Employment of Mythological and Literary Narratives in Identity Formation Among the Hijras of India. Religion and Gender. 4(1), pp.21–39. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/rg.8259
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Published on 23 Jun 2014.
Peer Reviewed

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