Quest 2016

Quest 2016, a two-day National Seminar on Queer Discourses and Social Dialogues, was held at Centre for Development Studies (CDS), Thiruvananthapuram on 2016 December 16 – 17.

Quest 2016 aimd to bring together and examine the least represented facets of queer lives. The strategies adopted by various queer support groups, challenges involved in policy design and implementation impacting gender identity and sexual orientation at workplaces, the best practices followed by organizations, media and self-representations of queer identities and lives, the queer diaspora and subalterns, the history of the queer movement, the social exclusion faced by LGBTIQ people and related mental health challenges etc. are among the least documented socio-cultural issues in Kerala.

quest full logoEncouraging a better understanding of the same, Quest examined current happenings and the hopeful future of queer people, especially of Malayali origin, at the local, national and global scales. This search, spurred by the recent surging positive perceptions regarding the queer folk in Kerala, was seen alongside the continuing socio-legal-subaltern status of sexual minorities. This academic mission was jointly organized by Association of Cultural and Scientific Research (ACSR) and Queerala in association with Center for Development Studies, Trivandrum.

Programme Schedule

16th December (Day 1)
Registration: 9:00 am onwards
Inaugural Function: 9.30-10:30 am
(Special Guest: Deepa Vasudevan, Founder Member, Sahayatrika)

Plenary Session 1 (10:30- 11:15 am): ‘The Quilt is not the Closet’: Risk, Pleasure and Writing in India. – Dr. Brinda Bose, Centre for English Studies, School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies, JNU, New Delhi

Presentation Session 1: Questioning Queer Politics in India (11:30am-1:00pm) Chair- Dr. Brinda Bose

Exploring the Subaltern Colours of the Queer Rainbow– Vaikhari Aryat, Ph.D. scholar, Department of Political Science, University of Hyderabad.

Queer movement and pride march- Visibility for queer bodies: Yogesh S, Research scholar, Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University, Delhi.

Mapping Sexuality and Caste in Papilio Buddha– Lars Olav Aaborg, Presented by-TBD.

Queering Dalit in India– Dhrubo Jyoti (Hindustan Times, New Delhi and Dhiren Borisa, Research Fellow, JNU, New Delhi).

Of being Queer- a background note on the history of queer politics in Kerala, Reshma Radhakrishnan, Ph.D. Scholar, School of Economics, Delhi University.

Panel Discussion 1: Queer and Beyond (2:00-3:00 pm) Dr. Muraleedharan Tharayil– Former Associate Professor, Dept. of English, St. Aloysius College, Thrissur (Moderator)


Dr Rekha Raj- Manager, Women’ Project, Amnesty International, Bangalore.

Vasudhendra Shroff- Writer (Kannada Sahitya Adacemy Award Winner), Bangalore.

Chinju Aswathi- Program Co-Ordinator, Sahayatrika for Human Rights, Thrissur

Delfina– Nirangal, Chennai

Plenary Session 2 (3:00-3.45pm): ‘The Legal Construction of Queer Identity’ – Danish Sheikh, Legal Consultant, International Commission of Jurists, New Delhi.

Presentation Session 2: Intersections of Identity (4:00-5.45 pm) Chair- Dr. Muraleedharan Tharayil

Invited paper: ‘Christian Response to Sexual Minorities in India’– Rev Fr Philip Kuruvilla, General Coordinator, Ecumenical Solidarity for HIV/AIDS(ESHA), NCCI(National Council of Churches in India).

Revisiting guilt- A qualitative study of gay men in Odisha: Jayaprakash Mishra, Ph.D. Scholar, Dept. of Liberal Arts, IIT Hyderabad.

Reaching out to Queer Women-A study on ‘Sahayatritrika’ in Kerala: Agaja P, MPhil Sociology, University of Hyderabad

The intersections of class and sexuality in social media space- A Case study from Thiruvananthapuram City, Abhishek Sekharan and Disha Saxena, Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum.

Body as a resistant political tool in Jayan Cherian’s Ka-Bodyscapes: Rahana Mansur, Research Scholar, MG University.

Understanding Masculinity among the Female Bodied: Exploring Construction of Identities from Small Towns of West Bengal, Kolika Mitra, Ph.D. Scholar, Centre for Studies of Social Systems, JNU.

Cultural Evening (6.00-7.00 pm)

17th December (Day 2)

Plenary Session 3 (9:30- 10:15 am): ‘Mourning and Carnival: Cosmopolitics and Queer Politics’ – Dr. Reshma Bharadwaj, Assistant Prof, Dept of Social Work, Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Tirur Regional Centre.

Presentation Session 3: Queer Portrayals on paper and visual frames (10:15-12:00 pm) Chair- Dr. Reshma Bharadwaj

Kamala Das- a Pioneer of Queer Literature: Kishor Kumar, Vice President-Queerala

Queer Ink and LGBTIQ subculture in India– Akshitha Javahar, MA English, Govt Arts College, Trivandrum.

Contextualizing Queer question in contemporary Indian Theatre: Neethu Das, Research Scholar, Dept. of English and Comparative Literature, Central University of Kerala, Kasargod

Revisioning Queer Identities in the performing arts of Kerala: Sephora Jose and Gowripriya Rajan, MA English, Sacred Heart College, Thevara

Ambiguous Sexuality in ‘The Picture of Dorian Grey’ (1891): Dilip Kumar, Writer, Trivandrum

Redefining Gender and Beauty Markers-Trans Beauty Pageants as Subversive Performances: Arya Mohan S, MA English, The English and Foreign language University, Secundarabad

Panel Discussion 2: Queer and Inclusiveness (12:00-1:00pm)

Dr. Tiju Thomas– Professor, Chennai IIT (Moderator)


Thaddeus Alfonso- LGBT Mental health expert and Clinical Social Worker, Chennai

Madhumita Venkarataman-Workplace inclusion specialist, Bangalore

Vihaan Peethambar- Event Management Professional, Kochi.

Shana Susan– Teaching professional and Book Reviewer, Kochi.

Presentation Session 4: Queer Lives Matter (2:00- 3:45 pm)
(Chair- Danish Sheikh)

Impact of Family Jurisprudence on Queer Lives-a Queer Critique: Sourav Mandal, PhD Scholar, National Law School India University, Bangalore.

LGBTQ+ Inclusion at Indian Workplaces: Ritesh Rajani, Employee Resource Group Leader, Bangalore.

Disrupting the Hijra Stereotype: Negotiations of Femininity in Tirunangai Rites of Transition– Shilpa M and Liza Tom, Integrated M.A, Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Hyderabad.

Do you want to be a dwarf, giant, mermaid or invisible? – An exploration using Ego states model in Transactional Analysis: Veena N S, Senior Talent Development Partner, Adobe, Bangalore.

Isolation, Assimilation or Mobility- In Anticipation of Indian ‘Gaybourhoods’, Brinda S M.

Ayurveda- The Non-Man and Embodiment– Malavika Binny, Centre for Historical Studies, JNU and Uthara G, Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum.

Panel Discussion 4: Queer Kerala (4:30-5:30pm)

Santhosh Kumar-MAYA, Thrissur (Moderator)


Kaveesher Krishnan, Team Leader, Tech Support Unit, Kerala State AIDS Control Society(KSACS), Trivandrum

Vaikhari Aryat– Research Scholar, University of Hyderabad.

Sree S Sree– OASIS Cultural Society, Trivandrum.

Dr Shalin Varghese– Faculty, University College, Trivandrum.

Closing Function (4:30-5:00)

Special Guest: Jayan K Cherian, Poet and Film Maker

About Us

Queerala: Queerala, a registered community based organization for Malayali LGBTIQ people, has been focusing on various awareness programs on queer topics besides providing support to young queer persons from Kerala and forming network of allies across various cross-sections of the society. A few successful projects by Queerala includes Wiki Loves Pride, Free Hugs, Peer Counselling Workshop and Homomorphism and a bunch of paper publications on various queer themes. (

Association for Cultural and Scientific Research (ACSR): ACSR is a nonprofit academic organization, to promote cultural, scientific and educational exchanges among the academic fraternity. It grants opportunities for cross-border collaboration via conferences and seminars . It also intends to strengthen educational, cultural, and professional institutions (schools, Colleges, libraries, research institutes and ministries of education) in countries through resource & information sharing. (

Co-Organizer: Dr J. Devika, Faculty, CDS (

Center for Development Studies (CDS), Triavandrum: CDS is a premier social science research institution, which has established a tradition of interdisciplinary research on development problems in India and considered to be one of the foremost development economics research centers in the country (

Contact Persons
Jijo Kuriakose (Founder Member, Queerala): 09745186466
Rajashree Raju (Fellow at Ashoka University): 08089011223
Lison Varghese (Administrator, ACSR): 09947116804