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Center for South Asian Studies pres.

Unruly Figures, Vernacular Idioms: Politics of Sexuality in India

Professor Navaneetha Mokkil (JNU, New Delhi)

Unruly Figures, Vernacular Idioms: Politics of Sexuality in India Unruly Figures, Vernacular Idioms: Politics of Sexuality in India
Unruly Figures, Vernacular Idioms: Politics of Sexuality in India
This talk reflects on the key interventions of Navaneetha Mokkil’s recently published book Unruly Figures: Queerness, Sex Work and the Politics of Sexuality in Kerala. Mokkil tracks the cultural practices through which sexual figures are produced in the public imagination and how these figures are accessed and deployed by marginalized sexual subjects, primarily the sex worker and the lesbian, as they stage their own fractured journeys of resistance in the post-1990s context of globalization. She argues that such intermedial and intertextual cultural traffic is the basis of a vernacular politics of sexuality.

By assembling and analyzing a Malayalam language archive, Mokkil demonstrates how vernacular formations of the politics of sexuality cannot be contained within scripts of visibility, rights, and recognition. Her explorations captures the need to revise politics in favor not of a set path but of one that holds within it different possibilities. Mourning and loss, failure, and rewriting are integral to such itinerant political topographies. This talk explores how we have to tactically reinvent categories of analysis so that we can engage with the unstable horizons of the
political.

Navaneetha Mokkil is an Assistant Professor at Center for Women’s Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Her areas of research and teaching include feminist politics in India, print and visual culture, and public formations of sexuality. She completed her PhD in English and Women’s Studies from the University of Michigan in 2010. She is the author of Unruly Figures: Queerness, Sex Work and the Politics of Sexuality in Kerala (2019, Seattle: University of Washington Press) and co- editor of Thinking Women: A Feminist Reader (2019, Kolkata: Stree Samya Publishers).

The events are generously sponsored by the Center for South Asian Studies; the Colonialism, Race, and Sexualities Initiative (CSRI) of the Institute for Research on Women & Gender; the Department of English Language & Literature; and, the Department of Women's Studies.

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