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J Womens Hist. 2011;23(4):12-35.

Writing sex and sexuality: archives of colonial North India.


This article focuses on disparate sites and subjects to reflect on and problematize the relationship between sexuality and the archives in colonial north India. I dwell on how ‘recalcitrant’ and hidden histories of sexuality can be gleaned by not only expanding our arenas of archives, but also by decentering and recasting colonial archives. I do so by specifically investigating some of the “indigenous” writings in Hindi, through texts concerning homosexuality, sex manuals, the writings of a woman ayurvedic practitioner, didactic literature and its relationship to Dalit (outcaste) sexuality, and current popular Dalit literature and its representations of the past. The debate for me here is not about the flaws of archival uses but rather of playing one archive against another, of appropriating many parallel, alternative, official, and popular archives simultaneously to shape a more nuanced and layered understanding of sexuality.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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