1st Edition

Queer Politics in Times of New Authoritarianisms Popular Culture in South Asia

Edited By Somak Biswas, Rohit K. Dasgupta, Churnjeet Mahn Copyright 2024

    Queerness remains a central fault line in contemporary South Asia. Colonial-era ‘anti-sodomy’ laws, codified in Article 377 of the penal codes in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, or Article 365 in Sri Lanka, exemplify the shared imperial lineages of the region as also their long postcolonial afterlives. Across South Asia and the world, new authoritarianisms have reignited old fault lines around sexuality. New media technologies have increasingly connected diasporic space with mainland South Asia, globalising queer networks. Yet, these trajectories are necessarily discontinuous.

    In the last two decades whilst there has been an explosion of LGBTQ+ visibility most notably in South Asian film, television and new media, this visibility has come with mainstream ideological agendas which do not especially represent the diversity of queer lives in South Asia along key identities of caste, class, religion and region. This book seeks to encourage critical thinking by suggesting ways in which notions of culture, neoliberalism, nationalism and queerness in the context of new authoritarianisms are disentangled. The chapters in this volume take up these questions and offer critical imaginings of sexual politics and its imbrication with popular culture and authoritarian politics within contemporary South Asia.

    The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of South Asian Popular Culture.

    Introduction: Queer politics in times of new authoritarianisms

    Somak Biswas, Rohit K. Dasgupta and Churnjeet Mahn


    1. “Attempting to commit offences”: Protectionism, surveillance and moral policing of queer women in Sri Lanka

    Sarala Emmanuel and Ponni Arasu


    2. “It’s illegal but it’s not, like, really illegal”: Sri Lanka’s ‘sodomy laws’, the politics of equivocation, and queer men’s sexual citizenship in The One Who Loves You So

    Shermal Wijewardene


    3. Contesting the mainstream transwoman figurations: The question of caste and precarity in Udalaazham

    Sruthi B Guptha and Sandhya V


    4. Between the sheets: The queer sociality of Bombay zines

    Brian A. Horton


    5. Between ‘Cheeni’ and ‘Nupi Maanbi’: Transgender politics in Manipur at the intersection of nation and Indigeneity

    Maisnam Arnapal and Debanuj DasGupta


    6. Mirrors and murals: Reflections on embodied and state violence

    Krystal Nandini Ghisyawan


    7. Instagram representation of trans and hijra identities in Bangladesh

    Tanvir Alim


    Somak Biswas is a Postdoctoral Fellow, Faculty of History, University of Cambridge. His most recent book is Passages through India: Indian Gurus, Western Disciples and the Politics of Indophilia, 1890-1940 (2023).

    Rohit K. Dasgupta is Senior lecturer in cultural industries at the University of Glasgow, UK. He is the author of Digital Queer Cultures in India (2017).

    Churnjeet Mahn is Researcher in Literature with expertise in travel writing, race, and sexuality. Her most recent book is Queer Sharing in the Marketized University (2023).