Alexandra Shiva, Sean MacDonald, Michelle Gucovsky
Meaning ‘important people’ in Urdu, ‘hijras’ are the eunuchs who served the Court in ancient India and Pakistan. In Hindu tradition, hijras were considered divine and mystic, however, they fell from such a position after the colonial period. The British colonizers demystified their culture and decried them as perverse.
Today, the higher caste despises hijras, and more than a million hijras have been expelled from their families and workplaces, making a living through prostitution and begging. To make matters worse, they often fall victim to HIV/AIDS.
An anthropological report on one of the most unique subcultures in the world, Bombay Eunuch portrays the peculiar modes of living and values of the hijras, who have formed a substitute family with a 37-year-old matriarch Meena in a slum near Bombay. Interweaving scenes and interviews from their everyday lives with Technicolor Bollywood films and interviews with anthropologists, Bombay Eunuch reflects on the complex problems of sexual identity and also on the troubles between Western ideas and tradition. (Kwon Eun-sun)
Alexandra ShivaAlexandra Shiva
Alexandra Shiva has spent extensive time in India over the past five years. Her undergraduate work at Vassar College, where she received her BA in 1995, focused on issues of gender and sexuality in art history, film, and psychology. In 1994, she completed a documentary photography-audio piece, Constructions of Reality, that explored gender identity issues. She is currently the Director of Development for Urban Empire, a non-profit New York City theatre company.
Sean MacDonaldSean MacDonald
Sean MacDonald has an MA in Religious Studies from the University of Chicago. His work has focused on gender and identity, goddess worship, mysticism, and literary theory, and he has conducted extensive research in these areas in India over the past five years.
Michelle GucovskyMichelle Gucovsky
Michelle Gucovsky received her BA in Religion from Barnard College, where she wrote her senior thesis on eunuchs in India as a reflection of gender issues in Hinduism. She has pursued in-depth independent research on the changing character of gender roles in India in the face of globalization and modernization.