Subcategorization of Caste, Begumpura and Religion (TAARIF)

This following is a reflexive article written by a cohort of CSGS’s TAARIF (The Transformative Arts and Research Initiatives Fellowship). The first cohort of TAARIF brought together two individuals, for a period of four months (April 1 to July 31, 2023). The fellowship serves as platform for emerging trans* scholars from the subcontinent to bring […]

Decoding Desire and Dining in India: A Hidden History of Food Hierarchy

“Food in India is closely tied to the moral and social status of individuals and groups. Food taboos and prescriptions divide men from women, gods from humans, upper from lower castes, one sect from another” (Appadurai, “How to make a National Cuisine”, 8). Introduction  The more we delve into the intricacies of any aspect of […]

Sexual Desires: Buddha, Butler and Bodies

This is a conversation on the histories of desire in the Indian subcontinent, a conversation that is centuries old. We began thinking about subcontinental desires while reading aloud the poems by the therīs¹.  We were drawn in by theri  Siha’s poem who said that she had “…had no peace of mind” because she was tormented […]

Friendship Sans Symmetry- The Unlawfulness of Feminine Intimacy

When one begins to think of how to think about friendship, it is Aristotle (384–322 BC), the towering and omnipresent Greek philosopher, who comes to our mind. For Aristotle, friendship was one of reciprocity and utility that formed the cornerstone of citizenship. Shared between men, whether based on pleasure, utilitarianism, or virtue, Aristotelian friendship required […]

Desiring Delhi

Can cities feel desire? In November 2013, Google India released an advertisement that went viral within seconds of its release. Titled “Reunion,” the ad follows a simple yet effective storyline of reuniting friends who have been separated by a throw of the historical dice. In the throes of nostalgia, a grandfather named Baldev reminisces to […]

Geographies of Intimacy in Hyderabad

‘Hyderabad: Young couple caught kissing on camera in metro lift’ was the headline of The Times of India newspaper in February 2019. This was followed by a CCTV footage of a young couple, which went viral on social media. The news report also said that the station where this happened was being identified to take […]

Mapping Excesses, Mapping Bodies: Red Dress Waali Ladki, the City and Sexual Violence

Red Dress Waali Ladki demands to be held in generous, capacious headspaces, unafraid perhaps of what kind of associations it may bring about, or what kind of searing trace it may leave. Holding, witnessing and sharing space with Diya Naidu, who conceptualized and performed this piece, is not a disembodied participation – one enters the […]

Efflorescence of Love: Male Same-Sex Desire in Early Modern India

“” What if I cannot see you, my Sulaiman / Your image dwells and moves in my eyes.” (Saleem Kidwai, 2000). This line is from the eighteenth-century Urdu poet of Delhi, Abdul Hai “Taban” who is pining for his beloved, Sulaiman – another contemporary poet. In the literary collections of early-modern texts in languages like […]

The Seductions of the Night

As children we used to play a game called “dark room”. It was basically hide and seek with all the lights off and played in a single room. The den waited outside while everyone hid and then came inside to locate people. There was a lot of touching and feeling, and heavy breathing and opportunities […]