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Feb 16 2023

Institute for the Humanities Fellows Lecture: Gayatri Reddy, “Our blood is becoming white”

February 16, 2023

4:00 PM - 6:00 PM


Behavioral Sciences Building


1007 W Harrison Street, Suite 153, Chicago, IL 60607

Institute for the Humanities Fellows Lecture: Gayatri Reddy, GWS & Anthropology
“Our blood is becoming white. Race, Religion, and the Politics of Belonging for Siddis in Hyderabad, India”

“Our blood is becoming white.” This was a constant lament I heard from siddis in contemporary Hyderabad, India—third and fourth-generation descendants of East African slaves and soldiers recruited by the local ruler or Nizam in the 1860s, to form the African Cavalry Guard in his army. The talk explores this siddi lament and the multivalent symbols–of color, blood, affect, belonging–latent in it. Drawing on fieldwork conducted over the course of the last decade among siddis in Hyderabad, ambivalently situated as Indian citizens who are racialized as “black” in an Indian and global order that denigrates blackness and marked by their religious identification as Muslim in a virulently Hindu nation, this talk unpacks these contexts and explores how siddis themselves negotiate their belonging. It unearths the ways in which blackness, Muslimness, and masculinity are constituted as (intersecting) social and political categories, caught in the dialectics of alienation and intimacy, belonging and otherness, with enduring effects on the lives and cosmologies of siddis in Hyderabad, and on the contemporary politics of race, gender, and religion in India.

GAYATRI REDDY is an anthropologist, feminist, writer, and teacher. She is Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies, Global Asian Studies, and Anthropology at UIC. She got her Ph.D in Anthropology from Emory University. Her research, teaching and community engaged work lie at the intersections of sexuality, gender, race, and the politics of subject and community formation in India and the Indian diaspora.


Institute for the Humanities

Date posted

Jun 8, 2023

Date updated

Jun 8, 2023