Queering Knowledge: Academia in the Hands of the Activists


  • Anita Datta University of Durham




LGBT, knowledge production


This paper explores the tensions and resonances between academic and non-academic approaches to scholarly knowledge through fieldwork conducted at an NGO that promotes the rights of lesbian, bisexual, and female-to-male transgender people in Eastern India. I analyse both productive and frustrated exchanges between activists and academics from the activists’ point of view and make the following two arguments: Firstly, I argue that interpretations, developments, and uses of knowledge instigated by non-academics must be taken seriously by academics even when they are in tension with the dominant academic understanding of that knowledge. Secondly, and expanding upon this argument, I go on to suggest that academics should consciously seek to write in a style and tone that does not assume extensive shared specialist knowledge, in order to open up fertile scholarly ideas more fully for engagement with those outside academia or within different disciplines and sub-specialisms of scholarship.