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ArtsOne Lecture Theatre

Queen Mary University of London

Mile End Road

London

E1 4NS

United Kingdom

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The LISS-DTP in collaboration with KCL and QMUL Linguistics are thrilled to welcome Professor Kira Hall (University of Colorado Boulder) for a special invited talk.

Abstract and bio below. Please book a ticket to help planning - the event will be followed by a reception. Please direct any questions about the event to ling-events-admin@qmul.ac.uk.




Middle Class Timelines, Ethnic Humor, and Sexual Modernity in Delhi

The rise of India’s global economy has reinforced a perception of English as a language of sexual modernity within the expanding middle classes. This article explores this perception in the multilingual humor of Hindi-speaking Delhi youth marginalized for sexual and gender difference. Their joking routines feature the Sikh Sardarji, a longstanding ethnic figure portrayed as circulating in modernity but lacking the English competence to understand modernity’s sexual semiotics. Reflective of the economic restructuring that ushered in the millennium, the humor supports a normative progress narrative that prioritizes an ethnically unmarked urban middle class. At the same time, the lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth who tell these jokes—still criminalized under Section 377 when this fieldwork was conducted—shift this narrative by positioning sexual knowledge at modernity’s forefront. The analysis reveals how sexual modernity, here viewed as constituted in everyday interaction through competing configurations of place, time, and personhood, relies on normativity even while defining itself against it.





Kira Hall is Professor of Linguistics and Anthropology at the University of Colorado Boulder, and is the Director of the Program in Culture, Language and Social Practice. Her research examines issues of language and social identity in India and the United States, particularly as they materialize within hierarchies of gender, sexuality, and socioeconomic class and shift under processes of globalization. Her publications include the volumes Gender Articulated: Language and the Socially Constructed Self (with Mary Bucholtz, Routledge 1995) and Queerly Phrased: Language, Gender, and Sexuality (with Anna Livia, Oxford 1997), along with two volumes recognizing the life and work of Hindi poet, linguist, and folklorist Ved Prakash Vatuk: Studies in Inequality and Social Justice (2009) and Essays in Indian Folk Traditions (2007). With Rusty Barrett, she is the editor of the Oxford Handbook in Language and Sexuality, published in 2018.

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ArtsOne Lecture Theatre

Queen Mary University of London

Mile End Road

London

E1 4NS

United Kingdom

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