1st Edition

Worlding Postcolonial Sexualities Publics, Counterpublics, Human Rights

By Kanika Batra Copyright 2022
    222 Pages 22 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    222 Pages 22 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    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, and 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; a marked increase in sexual violence; piecemeal reproductive freedoms and sexual choice under neoliberalism; the emergence and management of the HIV/AIDS crisis; precariousness of lesbian and transgender concerns within feminist and LGBTQ+ movements; and 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.

    Chapter 3 of this book is freely available as a downloadable Open Access PDF at http://www.taylorfrancis.com under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND) 4.0 license.

    Chapter 1 Introduction

    Worlding Postcolonial Sexualities: Archives, Activism, and Anterior Counterpublics

    Part 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

    Part 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

    Part 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


    Kanika Batra is Professor of English at Texas Tech University. She writes on 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).

    "Worlding Postcolonial Sexualities is a shining new gem in comparative studies. In a refreshing shift beyond the established canons, narratives, and genres of postcolonial, feminist, and queer studies, Batra reveals how feminist and LGBTQ newsletters, magazines, and journals in Jamaica, India, and South Africa, published between the late 1970s and late 1990s, created counterpublic spaces for articulating and defending sexual rights, while tracing the emergence of these print cultures and organisational networks from the global South into transnational spheres as vibrant, alternative, relational, and intersectional forms of feminist and queer history and coalition."

    —William J Spurlin, Professor of English and Vice-Dean, Brunel University London, UK

    "Kanika Batra's Worlding Postcolonial Sexualities, builds on her book on postcolonial drama published in 2011, taking her research into an under-studied area of English-language magazines published from the late 1970s to the mid- 1990s. This book is remarkable in analyzing feminist and queer activism in connection with each other. Batra asserts astutely that the separation of feminist from gay issues in not productive in India, Jamaica, South Africa, scenarios that are  different from activism for sexual rights for gays and lesbians in Europe and North America. Rather, in these Global South locations, activist groups attempt to gain space and raise awareness against sexual violence via legislative struggles as well as feminist activism and publications. Such efforts work towards social change in the arena of sexual inequalities. This book, in combining studies of gender and sexuality with those of space and region as increasingly important in our global perspectives in comparative studies, brings new archival material into transnational gender and globalization studies."

    —Ketu H. Katrak, Professor of Drama, University of California, Irvine, USA

    "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, Jamaica.

    "Kanika Batra brilliantly uses queer journalism in Jamaica, India and South Africa to analyze counter discourses and the growing visibility of LGBTQ+ resistance. It answers the urgent question of how alternative queer histories and practices have become agents of postcolonial change and, equally importantly, how they develop transnational South-South connections. This deeply insightful book is a must-read for anyone interested in "worldmaking," feminism, queer politics, and social change."

    — Premilla Nadasen, Professor of History at Barnard College, Columbia University, USA