In this series we interview PhD researchers across the arts and humanities in Scotland, and throughout the month of March we’re putting a special focus on women-identifying researchers. In this post, we hear from Rukhsar Hussain, who is a PhD researcher at the University of Strathclyde.
What year are you in, and at what school?
Third year. English, School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Strathclyde
What’s the working title of your thesis?
Representation of hijras in the mainstream Indian cinema, literature and life writing
How would you describe your thesis to someone you just met?
I am looking at the representations of Hijras in South Asian fiction, cinema, and life writing. Hijras belong to a community in India and the subcontinent whose birth sex is male but who identify as female or neither male nor female. This community is one of the most visible sexual minorities in India and have long been marginalised to the extent that they were not even considered a gender, forcing many into prostitution and begging. In my research, I aim to situate gender and sexuality in India, particularly through the figure of hijra, within the intersections of caste, religion, nationalism and historical interventions. This will fill the shortcomings of earlier projects as I look at hijras with more than just one vector of oppression.
What do you like best about your PhD/research/experience thus far?
I love the fact that I am working on a project that works towards social inclusion and aims at challenging the evils present in the society. Working full time on my research makes me feel extremely satisfied. Furthermore, meeting some of the most fabulous thinkers of my field in seminars, conferences is another amazing thing that had come as part of my PhD journey.
What do you wish you’d known going into your PhD program?
I wish I have had known more about publishing and got training in Uni teaching as I went into PhD. As these are the two things about which I had no idea, and it took me a lot of time to build confidence in myself.
What do you do for fun outside of academia?
I like to explore new places and love reading non-fiction books outside of my field. I also have an interest in learning more about different religions.
If you’d like to be featured in our ‘5 Minutes With’ series, email Danielle.Schwertner@glasgow.ac.uk