Organized Panel Session
This panel re-imagines concepts of gendered labor through a focus on explicit and implicit procedures of "mediation" carried out by women and transgender persons in South Asia. Instead of figuring mediation linguistically as the “work of translation,” as in the poststructuralist turn, we share recent ethnographic research that reveals the gendered condition of being perpetually caught "between" systems, practices, and social structures. We take up the strikingly gendered aspects of figures that are simultaneously mediators and “the mediated”, who muddle discursive categories of firm and family, liberal autonomy and feudal entanglement, and law and gift. Rather than citing female and queer displacements across these formations as organic, we describe gendered practices and pedagogies of mediation, as well as the technologies and techniques that enable such figures to extend themselves across incongruent domains such as life and death, and public and private. How and why do so many women make unexpected pacts with others? What can mediation in South Asia contribute to our understanding of gender theory at large? Can mediation be framed not only as productive, but reproductive or creative? The panel explores mediation at the interstices of diverse formations such as legal jurisdictions, financial systems, caste and kinship structures, as well as between forms of self and species.