Sexual States: Governance and the Struggle over the Antisodomy Law in India
Engendering Social Problems, Exposing Sexuality’s Effects on Biopolitical States
Delving into Section 377, particularly the statistics related to it, the chapter provides an up-close view of sexuality’s constitutive effects on the state. Focusing on a state agency, the National Crime Records Bureau, this chapter utilizes fieldwork to reveal sexuality’s impact on its spaces, iterative practices, and routinized procedures for crunching and reporting data on crime. Heterosexual violence against women is emphasized and rendered into a social problem, whereas the numbers for Section 377 are deliberately omitted. Rather than heteronormativity, this difference is attributed to the institution’s subjective concerns with ensuring the biopolitical welfare of the population. Taking issue with the neglect of sexuality in theories of the biopolitical while emphasizing the connections between biopolitics and sexuality leads to the insight that seemingly objective measures such as statistics as well as state definitions of social problems are deeply subjective sexualized practices. It also shows that Section 377 is not the primary law, but one among a thicket of decrees, policies, discourses, and iterative practices through which same-sex sexualities are governed and states affirmed.