Radiant As the Moon: Mah Laqa Bai ‘Chanda’ and Visual Culture in Asaf Jahi Hyderabad

Introduction “katey hai dam ye jo ‘Chanda’ ka yaad-i maula meinginey hain ‘umr mein apne voh hi shehaar ka din”“Only if Chanda passes each breath remembering ʿAli’s nameDoes her life count and the passing time becomes a day.” (Kugle 2016, 217) Mah Laqa Bai ‘Chanda’ (1768-1824) represents one of the most enigmatic and prominent courtesans […]

Beauty and the ‘Beast’?: The Social Worlds of Beauty and Pain

Can you imagine a world where Snow White is not ‘fair as snow’ and is a dwarf herself? Or Rapunzel does not possess her extraordinarily lustrous long hair? Or the Sleeping Beauty has warts all over her face? As children who have been socialised into a world of fairy tales with beautiful princesses, twisted and […]

Two takes on Queens and Kings

As I sat with the prompt, “Kings and Queens” that the editors of Qurbatein gave me, I felt it was the perfect opportunity to express some thoughts I have recently had about the drag scene in India. Deep ambivalence soon followed the sense of excitement about what drag is doing here. I was also tempted […]

Honey, do you really think you have daddy issues?

“ Fuck me, Daddy ” is a widely reiterated phrase in pornography. Spaces of heterosexual porn that have been problematized by feminists are filled with categorizations of porn that include incest porn, step-mother, step-father and MILF porn categories. Amia Srinivasan (2022) illustrates the manner in which porn functions as a prescription to sex, particularly for heterosexual couples. […]

The Politics of Erotic Empowerment: Repulsion and Irrationality

This short essay explores the twin registers of repulsion and irrationality through which queer erotic intimacies are painted in public consciousness through analysis of medieval histories, discourse around the monkeypox and HIV/AIDS pandemics and other medical and legal texts. This essay proposes a queer politics of erotic empowerment that counter the hegemony of abjection and […]

Three Stories of Indian Womanhood: A Queen, Courtesan, and Actress

In the performance cultures of south India, expressions of sexuality and sexual desire converge and diverge from expressions of gender normativity. As scholars who are also trained in south Indian dance, we draw on our academic expertise and embodied training to call attention to the myriad ways that gender and sexuality are expressed through performance […]