Thesis ID: CBB679420788

The Nation and Its Deviants: Global Sexology and the Racial Grammar of Sex in Colonial India, 1870-1940 (2022)

unapi

Loomba, Ania (Advisor)
Sequeira, Rovel Jerome Alex (Author)


Loomba, Ania
University of Pennsylvania
Publication date: 2022
Language: English


Publication Date: 2022
Physical Details: 383

This dissertation reconfigures the historiography of modern sexology from the vantage point of colonial India. It argues that India’s encounter with the racist scientific and literary infrastructures of sexology engendered taxonomies of Indian sexual life that were grounded not in liberal understandings of subjectivity but in non-liberal grammars of racial excess. Routing the history of sexology and sexuality through the global circulation of literary and scientific forms at the turn-of-the-20th-century, I contend that while the “invention” of sexuality in Europe was enabled by iconic confessional genres like the case history, the autobiography, the novel, and the questionnaire, these genres played an oversized role in defining sexuality because they undergirded individualized liberal personhood. In colonial India, however, even as modern sexology developed from the late 19th century onwards, confessional scientific genres like the case history and the questionnaire, and parallel individualizing literary genres like the autobiography and the novel were perceived as lacking by both colonial and Indian elites because of supposedly collectivist and irrational “native” models of thought, expression, and kinship. I position this orientalist discourse of absence as an enabling fiction, one which allowed the modern Western European deviant to be read as qualitatively different from his Indian counterpart, fulsome in an individuality that was seen to be missing in the latter. Because of this presumed difference, European categories of sexual deviance—whether the homosexual, the couple, the child, or the hysteric—were not mimetically reproduced in India. Nor was an overarching Western binary between the homosexual and heterosexual seen to operate in India. Rather, a more elementary schism emerged between colonial and select bourgeois Indian elites who claimed the authority to recount sexual “truth” within these confessional genres and a litany of subaltern deviants whom they rendered untruthful, reticent, or voiceless. These latter were almost entirely represented in racialized cartographic, ethnographic, corporeal, photographic, and statistical terms, producing a modern sexological grammar that privileged “exteriority” over “interiority” as the hallmark of Indian sexual subjectivity.

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Authors & Contributors
Basu, Amit Ranjan
Bauer, Heike
Crozier, Ivan
Frederickson, Kathleen
Greenwood, Anna
Huertas, Rafael
Journals
History of the Human Sciences
Arbor: Ciencia, Pensamiento y Cultura
Environment and History
History and Technology
History of Psychology
History Workshop Journal
Publishers
Routledge
University of Chicago
University of Pennsylvania
Cornell University Press
Fordham University Press
Palgrave Macmillan
Concepts
Sexuality
Colonialism
Sexology
Science and race
Great Britain, colonies
Eugenics
People
Ellis, Havelock
Hardy, Thomas
Morton, Samuel George
White, Walter
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
18th century
Places
India
Bengal (India)
Europe
United States
Asia
Germany
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