The Dissident Citizen

63 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2010 Last revised: 11 Sep 2010

See all articles by Sonia Katyal

Sonia Katyal

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law

Date Written: April 1, 2010


We have arrived at a crossroads in terms of the intersection between law, sexuality, and globalization. Historically, and even today, the majority of accounts of GLBT migration tend to remain focused on “a narrative of movement from repression to freedom, or a heroic journey undertaken in search of liberation.” Within this narrative, the United States is usually cast as a land of opportunity and liberation, a place that represents freedom from discrimination and economic opportunity. But this narrative also elides the complexity that erupts from grappling with the reality that many other jurisdictions outside of the United States can be even more forward looking when it comes to recognizing the need for GLBT civil rights and the fact that many immigrants to the States may confront a much more complex reality for many people of color, particularly in a post 9/11 world.

This Article attempts to provide one vantage point in theorizing the bipolar classifications that characterize globalization narratives regarding sexuality. Towards that end, this paper uses the notion of a diaspora as a tool with which to highlight some key constitutional hybridities in the terrain of law and sexuality. The notion of a diaspora, I argue, represents a new way of thinking of the intersection between sexuality, law, and globalization by forcing us to confront hybrid possibilities, particularly in recalibrating and reimagining the lines that we draw between North and South, East and West, home and elsewhere.

Towards that end, this paper introduces two conceptions of the diaspora, one cultural, another legal, by engaging in a close comparison between the recent Naz Foundation opinion overturning sodomy laws in India and Lawrence. Part I introduces the notion of a “queer diaspora”: referring, first, to the notion of a queer diaspora among people, and the communities, real or imagined, that flow from it. In Part II, I broaden this concept to introduce a secondary conception of a “constitutional diaspora” in evaluating the role of hybridity in the wake of Lawrence’s international implications. Part III takes a more normative approach than the previous sections, and here, discusses what these two types of a diaspora offer us in terms of reimagining the terrains of nationhood and citizenship.

Suggested Citation

Katyal, Sonia, The Dissident Citizen (April 1, 2010). UCLA LAW REVIEW, Vol. 57, p. 1415, 2010, Fordham Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1547148, Available at SSRN:

Sonia Katyal (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

215 Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

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