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Hijiras on the Boundaries of Gender and Religion

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  • ヒジュラ : ジェンダーと宗教の境界域
  • ヒジュラ ジェンダー ト シュウキョウ ノ キョウカイイキ

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Abstract

In India, hijras, who are neither men nor women, named in various traditional indigenous terms, have been represented as sexual deviants since the colonial period. From the late 1980’s onwards, they have been taken up and discussed in the literature of gender studies. One of the most debated issues is whether or not they represent the third sex/gender in a non-western society. Contrary to this trend of gender studies which concentrates on their bodies, this essay attempts to focus on their religious practices, in Gujarat, and to analyze their identity building as devotees of the Hindu Goddess. Through castration, they have transcended men’s gender status and become like women; however, this new gender identity cannot guarantee them the same status as women in Indian society. In short, they are standing on the boundary of gender. In the sacred sphere, which allows hijras to identify with the Hindu Goddess, the gender ambiguity of hijras may be acceptable and understandable for others. As devotees of Hindu Goddess, they are constantly practicing religious rites and constructing their identities in relation to others. As a result, the status of hijras temporarily rises and becomes central in the sacred sphere, like that of renouncers who detach themselves from worldly concerns.

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