South Asia

Organized Panel Session

1 - The Times of Hansa and Elwina: Journeying with a Past That is Present

Friday, July 6
12:10 PM - 1:40 PM
Location: Juniper, New Building

It was at the age of 40 after I had already spent many years in the women’s movements that I gathered the courage to tell myself I loved women. This was in the late 1980s. Back then, there were no organized queer movements. To be able to find someone like me was a challenge. However, as I immersed myself more and more in the queer movements, this challenge became my driving impulse for activism. So then, when I heard about Hansa Patel and Elwina Fernandez, two women who loved each other and marked their love with a legal agreement, it was a moment of queer potentiality. Except that one of them is dead and the other one has been missing for two decades. This paper emerges from my journey with their stories. The frantic effort to piece together their narratives through oral narratives, police reports, and media coverage is simultaneously a necessary as well as an incomplete project. The former because their love and courage need to be marked and celebrated for all the promise their story holds for queer women and how they can live their lives and the latter because Hansa and Elwina are not with us to speak for themselves. So, this paper asks what does it mean for me to be their interlocutor? How do I honor their memories? Why is their story important to me? How does one grapple with the impossibility of recounting lives that we have lost?

Maya Sharma

Vikalp, Women's Group, India

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1 - The Times of Hansa and Elwina: Journeying with a Past That is Present



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