Imperialism and Sexuality: India, South Asia, and the World: Writing-Intensive Seminar


Far too often is the history of imperialism explained through narratives of political and economic extraction. Obscured by those more visible forms and even giving shape to them, lies the role of sexuality. As we learn in this course, the systematic appropriation of other people's goods and resources has always relied on sex, desire and intimacy. Over the semester, we will build an understanding of the long history of the sexual imperial connection in India, the way that British colonialism utilized sexuality to perpetuate its rule. We then turn to the way that some Indians have themselves secured the authority to extend those discourses over their own communities, over newly dispossessed members of the new nation-state, and more contemporaneously, over an otherwise unstoppable American power. The course uses a variety of sources - historical documents, academic research, films and novels - to examine the generative relationship between imperialism and sexuality over the past three hundred years. Focusing first on the European interaction with India and then turning to the United States' increasing interest in South Asia, we examine the links between contemporary globalization and heteronormative sexualities, the recurrent desire to "save" non-western women and queers from their own societies, the place of normative sexuality in securing internal and settler colonialism, the affinities staged by queer and feminist politics with neoliberal power structures.
Course Attributes: EN H; BU Hum; BU IS; AS HUM; AS LCD; AS WI I; FA HUM; AR HUM