Macquarie University
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Muratan, mahants and emergent identities: vernacular culture and the power of place in transgender Punjab

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posted on 2022-03-28, 09:41 authored by Sophiya Sharma
This thesis articulates the various trajectories that transgender lives follow in the Punjab, India. The transgender identity of muratan marks the first part of this journey, as one riddled with exclusions based on class, caste, gender, and sexuality. Incontrast, the kinnars are relatively respected and revered in their capacity as ritual holders, an elevation that is dependent on the cultivation of place and strategic alignments with divinity that allow a transcendence of their sexual and gendered difference. By according primacy to place as crucial in the constitution of these subjectivities, I bring a new perspective to the literature on transgender identities in India. I explore the fluidity and exchange between the transgender identities in Punjab by contending that all of the identities on the transgender spectrum are shaped by dominant cultural mores, myths, and meanings, in that we may define them as ‘vernacular identities’. Furthermore I look at how the nature of emergent transgender activism in the Punjab is also an interplay between the old and the new, pointing to the centrality of vernacular culture, myth and religion in the constitution of subjectivities across the transgender spectrum in the region.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- 1. The muratan of Punjab -- 2. Becoming kinnar : dwelling, community making, and renunciation -- 3. New places, emergent practices -- Conclusion -- Glossary of key terms -- Bibliography.


Bibliography: pages 88-94 Theoretical thesis.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Anthropology

Department, Centre or School

Department of Anthropology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Kalpana Ram


Copyright Sophiya Sharma 2018. Copyright disclaimer:






1 online resource (v, 94 pages) colour illustrations, colour portraits

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