Panelists: Dr. Durba Mitra and Dr. Ali Raza
Where: Live on SWGI Facebook
During the colonial period in India, European scholars, British officials, and elite Indian intellectuals—philologists, administrators, doctors, ethnologists, sociologists, and social critics—deployed ideas about sexuality to understand modern Indian society. In Indian Sex Life, Durba Mitra shows how deviant female sexuality, particularly the concept of the prostitute, became the primary way to think and write about Indian society.
Mitra reveals that ideas of deviant female sexuality were critical to debates about social progress and exclusion, caste domination, marriage, sexual violence, widowhood and inheritance, women’s performance, the trafficking of girls, abortion and infanticide, industrial and domestic labor, indentured servitude, and ideologies about the dangers of Muslim sexuality. She demonstrates how the intellectual history of modern social thought is based in a dangerous civilizational logic built on the control and erasure of women’s sexuality. This logic continues to hold sway in present-day South Asia and the postcolonial world.
This conversation with Professors Ali Raza and Durba Mitra explores the enduring importance of this history of the control and erasure of women's sexuality for thinking about issues of sexuality, sexual violence, and women's lives historically and today in South Asia.