Worlding Postcolonial Sexualities : Publics, Counterpublics, Human Rights book cover
1st Edition

Worlding Postcolonial Sexualities
Publics, Counterpublics, Human Rights

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after August 2, 2021
ISBN 9780367772109
August 2, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
240 Pages 22 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Worlding Postcolonial Sexualities demonstrates how late twentieth century postcolonial print cultures initiated a public discourse on sexual activism and contends that postcolonial feminist and queer archives offer alternative histories of sexual precarity, vulnerability, and resistance.

The book’s comparative focus on India, Jamaica, and South Africa extends the valences of postcolonial feminist and queer studies towards a historical examination of South-South interactions in the theory and praxis of sexual rights. Analyzing the circumstances of production and the contents of English-language and intermittently bilingual magazines and newsletters published between the late 1970s and the late 1990s, these sources offer a way to examine the convergences and divergences between postcolonial feminist, gay, lesbian activism. It charts a set of concerns common to feminist, gay, and lesbian activist literature: retrogressive colonial-era legislation impacting the status of women and sexual minorities; marked increase in sexual violence; piecemeal reproductive freedoms and sexual choice under neoliberalism; emergence and management of the HIV/AIDS crisis; precariousness of lesbian and transgender concerns within feminist and LGBTQ+ movements; Non-Governmental Organizations as major actors articulating sexual rights as human rights. This methodologically innovative work is based on archival historical research, analyses of national and international policy documents, close readings of activist publications, and conversations with activists and founding editors.

This is an important intervention in the field of Gender and Sexuality Studies and is the winner of the 2020 Feminist Futures, Subversive Histories prize in partnership with the NWSA. The book is key reading for scholars and students in gender, sexuality, comparative literature and postcolonial studies.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction

Worlding Postcolonial Sexualities: Archives, Activism, and Anterior Counterpublics

Section I Abeng, Challenging Depravation

Chapter 2

"Betta Mus Cum": Jamaica as the ‘Problem-Space’ of Gay and Lesbian Liberation

Chapter 3

"Rights a di Plan": Sistren and Sexual Solidarities in Jamaica

Section II Azadi, Emerging Freedoms

Chapter 4

Creating a Locational Counterpublic: Manushi and the Articulation of Human Rights and Sexuality from Delhi, India

Chapter 5

Outing Indian Sexualities: Bombay Dost and the Limits of Queer Intersectionality

Section III Amandla, Embodying Power

Chapter 6

Worlding Sexualities under Apartheid: From Gay Liberation to a Queer Afropolitanism

Chapter 7

Mediated Sexualities: Civic Feminism and Development Critique in South Africa


Digital Counterpublics and Intergenerational Listening

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Kanika Batra is Professor of English at Texas Tech University. She writes and teaches Transnational Feminist and Queer Studies, Postcolonial Literature, and Comparative Literature. She is the author of Caribbean Poetry: Derek Walcott and Edward Brathwaite (2001) and Feminist Visions and Queer Futures in Postcolonial Drama (2011).


"Kanika Batra’s Worlding Postcolonial Sexualities: Publics, Counterpublics, Human Rights is a tour de force of LGBTQI history, this time refreshingly tracing related southern activism, which is shown to take creative and sometimes arcane paths that lead to increased LGBTQI consciousness and visibility. The comparison across southern activist spaces breaks with the currently dominant colonized understanding of ‘internationalism’."

—Joan French, Institute of Gender and Development, University of the West Indies at Mona.