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Scholarly Article

Ashmita Biswas

Exploring Queered Digital Spaces in India: Prospects and Precarities of Looking for Love Online

Digital, cyberqueer, dating, apps, online

The availability of arenas for companionship and romance has increased exponentially in the digital world. A google search on online dating apps for queer people in India shows a plethora of results. From the advertisements and articles appearing on the screen, most of them document the vast array of dating applications available in the country. The key selling points being ‘inclusivity’ and the promise of ‘safety’, these apps seem to offer a legitimate digital queercitizenship to its queer users by allowing cyberspaces as explorative avenues through which the hitherto closeted populace can form cyberqueer identities. Building on existing research, this paper seeks to investigate both the prospects and precarities of looking for queer love online. Ethnographic researches conducted by studies have shown a completely different narrative where queer lives remain shrouded by despair, dejection, threat, and loneliness. Cyberbullying, cybervictimization, and cyber-violence are some of the realities that co-exist with the ever-increasing online queer presence in India. This paper exposes the complex entanglements that informs, to borrow Halperin’s terminology, the ‘queer forms of existence’, and queer relationalities emerging in the cyberspace as a politically charged ‘counter-conduct’. This article will further interrogate the possibility of viewing the digital world as a space operating outside of institutionalized heterosocial structures and thus examine whether cyberqueer bodies can be effectively integrated within a nationalist framework.
About the Author
Ashmita Biswas is a PhD candidate at the Department of English, St. Xavier’s College (Autonomous), Kolkata. She has presented her papers at several National and International Seminars, and has a few publications to her credit. Her areas of interest include Queer Studies, Postcolonial Literatures, African Literature in English, Indian Writing in English, Digital humanities, Memory studies, Popular Culture & Manga studies. She is currently working as a Visiting Faculty at the Department of English, The Neotia University.
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