Abundance: Sexuality, Historiography, South Asia

Anjali Arondekar
Feminist Studies
UC Santa Cruz

Histories of sexuality routinely mediate past(s) through archival forms of paucity, disenfranchisement and loss. Sexuality is rescued from the detritus of histories of colonialism and nationalism and placed within more reparative narratives of reform and rights. I challenge such a focus on loss as the structuring narrative for histories of sexuality. Instead, I explore the radical abundance of sexuality through historical archives in South Asia that are plentiful and quotidian, imaginative and ordinary. I engage the archives of a Devadasi (translated variously as courtesan, dancing girl, prostitute and sex-worker) diaspora, the Gomantak Maratha Samaj (Goan Maratha Society), in British and Portuguese India between 1865-1961. The book’s energies derive from my commitment to two entangled yet segregated historiographies: one in South Asian/area studies and the other in queer/sexuality studies. As such, the project is equally a broader meditation on the politics and poetics of sexuality, geopolitics and historiography.