Summer of ISHQ

Our summer webinar series, titled, “Summer of ISHQ” is an expansion of the Centre’s flagship speaker series, ISHQ: Issues in Society, History and Queerness. ISHQ is an acronym dear to our hearts because it translates as “love,” “desire,” “passion” across the languages of Urdu and Hindi. Over the years, the series has been a platform that has put thinkers, scholars and activists in conversation with one another as they address a range of issues like intimacy, feminism, inequality, desire, resistance, religion and identity. In our summer edition, we hope to bring together an illustrious group of thinkers who can have conversations across borders as they engage with an international audience.


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Summer of ISHQ 2021


In our first session, Charu Gupta and Joseph Massad discussed the various histories of sexuality and how we can rethink them.

About the Speakers: 


Charu Gupta is a Professor of Modern India in the Department of History, University of Delhi. Her work focuses on gender, sexuality, masculinity, caste, religious identities and vernacular literatures in early twentieth century north India. Some of her works include Sexuality, Obscenity, Community: Women, Muslims and the Hindu Public in Colonial India, a book that addresses print and popular culture as a significant, if ambivalent site for the reproduction of patriarchy in late colonial north India. Her latest monograph The Gender of Caste: Representing Dalits in Print focuses on the practices of distinction and hierarchy within the Hindu community through the regulation of caste, and specifically through the impact of caste ideology on women in the interwar period. She has also published several academic articles in English and Hindi across various leading journals. She is currently working on social histories of particular genres and subjects through life narratives in Hindi in the early twentieth century.


Joseph Massad is a Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University. His academic work has focused on Palestinian, Jordanian, and Israeli nationalism. He has a particular interest in theories of identity and culture – including theories of nationalism, sexuality, race and religion. His book Desiring Arabs, focuses on the representation of sexual desires in Arabs through a diverse compendium of Arabic writing from nineteenth century to the present. Other works include books namely, Islam in Liberalism and Colonial Effects: The Making of National Identity in Jordan. He has also published for several leading international journals and news media.


In our second session, Ann Pellegrini and Sandra Chatterjee discussed what constitutes as queer performance.

About the Speakers: 


Ann Pellegrini is Professor of Performance Studies and Social and Cultural Analysis at NYU. Her books and articles traverse several disciplines, but one through-line is an abiding interest in exploring how feelings are lived, experienced, and communicated between and across bodies—and with what risks and possibilities for self and others. In 1998, she founded the Sexual Cultures book series at NYU Press with José Muñoz; she now co-edits the series with Joshua Takano Chambers-Letson and Tavia Nyong’o.


Sandra Chatterjee’s choreographic and scholarly work is situated at the intersection of theory and practice deals with performance, dance, and the body with a focus on gender, postcolonial and migration studies. Sandra is the co-founder of the Post Natyam Collective, an internet-based network of choreographers/scholars, working in live performance, video, and scholarship.


In our third session, Sam McBean and Rohit Dasgupta discussed the relation between sex and technology.

About the Speakers: 


Sam McBean is the founding member and chair of Sexual Cultures Research Group that develops cross-disciplinary conversations about methodologies, cultures, texts and practices related to sexuality, sex, gender, identity, and both intimate and public cultures. She has been a Humboldt Foundation Research Fellow where she worked on a project that explored the promise of network imaginaries for queer intimacies as a  where she explored questions such as, what is the promise of the network for non-heterosexual or queer intimacies? How might technology and new metaphors of connection structure how sexual cultures are formed, represented, and theorized?

Rohit K Dasgupta is the author of the monograph Digital Queer Cultures in India: Politics, Intimacies and Belonging (Routledge, 2017), a book which explores how queer identities are formed in virtual spaces and how the existence of such spaces challenge and critique ‘Indian’-ness. He has also written extensively on the role virtual intimacies in redefining the discourse of intimacy, the extension of physical spaces through digital platforms as well as the prevalence of class and caste hierarchies in these spaces.


In our final session, Damon R. Young and Dina Al-Kassim discussed the relation between fantasy and sexuality.

About the Speakers: 


Damon R Young is an Associate Professor of French and Film & Media at University of California, Berkeley, and the author of Making Sex Public and Other Cinematic Fantasies that examines fears and fantasies about women’s and queer sexualities in French and U.S. cinema.


Dina Al-Kassim is an Associate Professor at the Department of English and The Social Justice Institute at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, and the author of On Pain of Speech: Fantasies of the First Order and the Literary Rant.

Summer of ISHQ 2020


In our first session, Prof. Judith Butler and Prof. Ratna Kapur discussed the tense relationship between the discourses of sexuality and human rights.

About the Speakers:


Judith Butler is Maxine Elliot Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program of Critical Theory at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of several books, such as “Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990)”, “Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex (1993)”, “Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable? (2009)” and most recently, “The Force of Nonviolence”, which will appear with Verso Press in 2020.


Ratna Kapur is a Professor of International Law and has taught at many institutes across the world. Professor Kapur has worked for the United Nations in the area of human rights and gender rights. She has also taught and published extensively on issues of human rights, with a particular focus on gender, and the rights of sexual and religious minority. Her books include “Makeshift Migrants and Law: Gender, Belonging and Postcolonial Anxieties (2010”), “Subversive Sites: Feminist Engagements with Law in India (co-authored Sage, 1996)” and most recently “Gender, Alterity and Human Rights: Freedom in a Fishbowl (2018)”.


In our first session, Prof. Jyoti Puri and Dr. Arvind Narrain discussed the tense relationship between the law and various strands of feminism.

About the Speakers:


Jyoti Puri is Professor of Sociology at Simmons University, where she has been serving as the Hazel Dick Leonard Chair since 2015. Her research explores questions of sexuality, race, nation and state, which she studies from a transnational and postcolonial feminist perspective. Professor Puri is also a writer, her most recent work being an ethnographic one, “Sexual States: Governance and the Struggle over the Antisodomy Law in India”. She is also a research Associate at the Women’s Studies Program in Religion Program at the Harvard Divinity School, where she is carrying out research on death and migration.


Arvind Narrain is an advocate and writer. He is one of the founding member of the Alternative Law Forum, and Director of Research and Practice at ARC International, a group that works on global LGBT organising. He was part of the team that litigated to tear down the infamous Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, and has also closely worked with the Justice Verma Committee which was instrumental in making amendments to the law addressing sexual harassment at the workplace. Some of his books and edited volumes include “Law like Love: Queer Perspectives on the Law” and “Because I have a voice: Queer Politics in India”.


For the third Summer of ISHQ session, we had Professor Ather Zia and Professor Papori Bora discuss Politics, analysing the gendered and racial aspects of state violence, and articulations of resistance in Kashmir and in India’s Northeast.

About the Speakers:


Ather Zia is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the Center for Asian Studies University of Northern Colorado. Her academic oeuvre focuses on the gendered contours of military violence in Kashmir, on social movements and activism by Muslim women, and on the cultural anthropology of Kashmir. She is the author of Resisting Disappearance: Military Occupation and Women’s Activism in Kashmir and the co-author of A Desolation Called Peace: Voices from Kashmir.


Papori Bora is an Assistant Professor at the Centre for Women’s Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University; her research is centred on the study of race and gender in India’s Northeast. Her primary areas of inquiry include but are not limited to feminist postcolonial theory, law and citizenship, globalisation and diaspora studies, and transnational migration. One of her key contributions to scholarship on the Northeast is the framework of “inclusive exclusion.”


The fourth edition in the Summer of ISHQ series featured a panel on Cinema, featuring Professor Gayatri Gopinath and Professor Shohini Ghosh discussing queerness in relation to films & other visual practices.

About the Speakers:


Gayatri Gopinath is a Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and the Director of the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at New York University. Her critical work brings the perspectives from queer theory to bear on the ideas of diaspora and visuality, through a range of cultural practices. She is the author of Impossible Desires: Queer Diasporas and South Asian Public Cultures, and the most recent, Unruly Visions: The Aesthetic Practices of Queer Diaspora.


Shohini Ghosh is the Sajjad Zaheer Professor at the AJK Mass Communication Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia, (Central University), New Delhi, India. She is the director of Tales of the Nightfairies (2002), a documentary about the sex workers’ rights movement in Calcutta and the author of Fire: A Queer Classic (2010). Ghosh writes on contemporary media, speech and censorship, popular cinema, documentary, gender and sexuality.


The penultimate session in the Summer of ISHQ 2020 series, featured Professor Jack Halberstam and Professor Naisargi Dave, conversing on the various borders that we straddle as individual bodies as well as a species.

About the Speakers:


Jack Halberstam is a Professor of Gender Studies and English at Columbia University. He is the author of several books, some notable ones being Female Masculinity (1998), In A Queer Time and Place (2005) and Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal (2012). Halberstam has also co-edited a number of anthologies including Posthuman Bodies with Ira Livingston (1995). He is currently working on a book titled Wild Thing on queer anarchy, performance and protest culture, the visual representation of anarchy and the intersections between animality, the human and the environment.


Naisargi Dave is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at University of Toronto. Her research concerns emergent forms of politics and relationality in contemporary urban India. Dave’s first book, Queer Activism in India: A Story in the Anthropology of Ethics (2012) examines the relationship between queer desires and queer political formations. Her upcoming book, tentatively titled The Social Skin: Humans and Animals in India, is a study of human-animal relationality. Each chapter is set within a unique sensorium and addresses a specific ethical question regarding how human and non-human animals live and die in a shared world.


The final session in the Summer of ISHQ series, featured filmmaker Paromita Vohra and Professor Lee Edelman, conversing on the linkages between sexuality, queerness and a “good” education.

About the Speakers:


Paromita Vohra is a filmmaker, writer and dedicated antakshari player, whose work mixes fiction and non-fiction to explore themes of urban life, popular culture, love, desire and gender. Some of her films as director include Partners in Crime, Morality TV and the Loving Jehad: A Thrilling Tale, Q2P, Where’s Sandra, Cosmopolis: Two Tales of a City, Un-limited Girls and The Amorous Adventures of Megha and Shakku in the Valley of Consent among others. She is the writer of the fiction feature Khamosh Pani/Silent Waters, several documentaries, the play Ishqiya Dharavi Ishtyle, and the comic Priya’s Mirror. Her fiction and non-fiction writing has been widely published and she writes a weekly opinion column Paronormal Activity in Sunday Midday. She is the founder and creative director of Agents of Ishq, India’s best-loved website about sex and desire.


Lee Edelman chairs the English Department at Tufts University where he is the Fletcher Professor of English Literature. A central figure in queer theory, his work brings together Lacanian analysis, rhetorical criticism, and the politics of social and cultural representation. He ignited an ongoing controversy with his most recent book, No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive (2004), which initiated what many now call ‘the anti-social turn’ in queer theory. His current project, a book tentatively titled Bad Education, thinks about queerness, the negation of value, and the ideology of the aesthetic. He has written numerous essays on topics including film studies, modern poetry, psychoanalysis, pornography, and contemporary art, and he frequently addresses the complicated relations between critical analysis and political action. In addition to No Future, he is the author of Transmemberment of Song: Hart Crane’s Anatomies of Rhetoric and Desire (1987) and Homographesis: Essays in Gay Literary and Cultural Theory (1994).