| 09.11.2021

Doctoral thesis: Sexuality and gender are still major causes of social discrimination

Many members of different societies face inequalities due to their sexual orientation and gender. Despite positive legal changes, the experiences of the LGBTI communities show persistent discrimination.

 In his doctoral thesis, Jagat Kunwar reveals how these discriminations are sustained and how they can be subverted.All inequalities are sustained by social classification establishing differences between social categories through binary principles such as ‘male’ and ‘female’. This results in exclusion of some groups from various aspects of social life.

 “The most effective way to fight social injustice is to raise consciousness about such existing classification schemes as legitimate. For effective activism, it is necessary to identify the nature of social classifications in various social contexts and to delegitimize them through collective action”, states Kunwar.

Kunwar has focused on the LGBTI movement in Nepal, which is mainly about establishing an alternate social category–called tesro-lingi–comprising of individuals who do not necessarily identify themselves as either ‘male’ or ‘female’, or ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’, or ‘heterosexual’ or ‘homosexual’. The main role of the movement is to educate society about the existence of such an alternate social category beyond the current binary categories.

 “It seems that all sexual and gender minorities face an overall heteronormative domination but irrespective of their identities, individuals who were assigned ‘male’ sex at birth continue enjoying social privileges”, says Kunwar.

Hence, there are very tight linkages between social categories and culture. The ‘naturalness’ of social identities and the corresponding perception of perversion and resulting discrimination is largely defined both historically and culturally.

“Utilising cultural resources to communicate how society perpetuates sexual and gender discrimination is a very effective strategy. For example, LGBTI activists in Nepal have successfully used religious stories, existing social traditions, customs and mores to support equality for sexual and gender minorities”, Kunwar says.

You can read the doctoral thesis in full here.

Jagat Kunwar
E-mail: jagat.kunwar@hanken.fi

Jagat Kunwar will be defending his doctoral thesis at 12:00 noon on 12 November 2021. The field of study is Management and Organisation. The doctoral defence will be held by video conference. You can access the video conference via Teams via this link.

Opponent: Associate Professor, PhD Lorraine Nencel, Vrije Universiteit
Custos: Professor Frank den Hond