South Asia

Organized Panel Session

4 - Naming the Body Multiple: Biomedicine, Genetics, and Sexual Identity in the Lives of CAH Patients

Saturday, July 7
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Willow, First Floor

My research 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.


In this paper, I look into the ways in which new transnational genetic technologies, in cohort with clinical diagnoses and consultation sessions between doctors, psychiatrists and parents, evaluate normality and abnormality vis-à-vis sexuality and gender. Using ethnographic fieldwork conducted since 2014 at a diagnostic lab in Pune, India, and among medical practitioners in Pune and Coimbatore, 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

Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India

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4 - Naming the Body Multiple: Biomedicine, Genetics, and Sexual Identity in the Lives of CAH Patients



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