Deconstructing the (im)possibilities of sexuality among Indian immigrants in New Zealand

Year: 2019

Author: Tirumalai, Vibha

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Talking about sexuality is uncomfortable for many people in India and has long been considered taboo (Das, 2014; Yip & Page, 2013). However, many Indian young people living in western contexts engage in sexuality education in schools, and this is the case in New Zealand, where this study is situated. This study focuses on understanding the nature of conversation and attitudes around learning about sexuality among second-generation Indian youth and their first-generation Indian parents in New Zealand. My doctoral research will employ Derridian deconstruction to question the underpinnings of understanding sexuality and the perceived importance of sexuality education. Deconstruction will attempt to act as means of revealing the structures that give meaning to immigrant Indian understandings and embodiments of sexuality in Aotearoa New Zealand. Deconstruction demonstrates that what appears to be outside a given system is always already fully inside it (Caputo, 1997). For example, while sexuality is repressed, it is very much a part of the historical Indian culture because of its presence in the evident ancient Indian texts (Kamasutra), and in temple carvings. That which seems to be natural is historical. As Jackson & Mazzei (2011) contend, deconstruction happens in the event that participants produce the interpretation of sexuality (Youngblood and Mazzei, 2011). My analysis will focus on the ways in which immigration potentiates shifts in the boundaries that mark the sexual realities my participants exist within. Derrida (1992) described deconstruction as “the experience of the impossible” (cited in Caputo, 1997). My presentation will explore how my research will engage the limits of sexual (im)possibility among first generation Indian immigrants and their children; what these boundaries produce and what they potentiate, rather than what they are or what they mean.