Submit a Manuscript to the Journal

Journal of Lesbian Studies

For a Special Issue on

Lesbian in/from South Asia: Erotic and Political Geographies

Abstract deadline
15 December 2023

Manuscript deadline
01 May 2024

Cover image - Journal of Lesbian Studies

Special Issue Editor(s)

Niharika Banerjea, O.P. Jindal Global University
[email protected]

Kashish Dua, Jesus and Mary College, University of Delhi

Adnan Hossain, University of Glasgow

Sara Shroff, University of Toronto

Shermal Wijewardene, University of Colombo

Ella Ben Hagai, California State University, Fullerton

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Lesbian in/from South Asia: Erotic and Political Geographies

This call invites submissions for a special issue on the erotic and political geographies of lesbian culture in/from South Asia. We recognize that both ‘lesbian’ and ‘South Asia’ are subject to ongoing definition via a complex and vast web of socio-cultural and political-economic processes such as capitalism, indentureship, domestic and informal labor, multiple routes and destinations of migration, including the Caribbean, the Gulf, the Africas, and the Americas, war and ecological crises, and globalized service economies. The issue's anti-essentialist perspective invites critical reflections on what it means to speak of being/becoming lesbian and/or being affined with lesbian cultural experiences in these contexts. The issue provides an occasion for foregrounding a multi-layered subject not defined by gender and sexual identity alone, but is deeply imbricated with and emerging through ethno-religious orders, caste and social class-based hierarchies​, racialized systems, and ableist cultures. What constitutes ‘South Asian lesbian’ cultural experiences are also shaped by the subject's negotiation of heteronormative citizenship, by now a mainstay of postcolonial nationalism. That also includes grappling with the long shadow of multiple and overlapping colonialisms and imperialisms and their legal legacies. Specifically, how lesbophobic and transphobic institutions and systems continue to pressure activists and individuals to interact with juridico-political apparatuses and natal families to create liveable spaces and queer kinship structures. The ever-changing dynamics between feminist movements in South Asia and ‘South Asian lesbian’ cultural experience affect the contours of being/becoming lesbian. This subject's valence is also shaped by diasporic imaginaries and the politics of representation structured by global north-south relations. The tensions between the articulation of being/becoming lesbian in South Asia in English, culturally rooted ‘vernaculars’, indigenous and spiritual practices, and the global rights-based language further complicate the understanding of the subject. In parallel, ​​a wave of new literary, cinematic,​ digital,​ and social scientific productions thickens the plot of what a lesbian in/from South Asia represents and how this figure is studied.  ​​

We invite contributions from the social sciences and humanities that examine lesbian cultural productions, ​spaces, ​representations, embodiments, and subjectivities in​/from​ South Asia. Contributions may address but are not limited to the following questions:​

  • How do current lesbian representations in cinema, literature, visual arts, and new media construct lesbian subjectivities in ways that complicate, engage and advance post-colonial, post-structural, queer theory, and intersectional and transnational lesbian theories?
  • ​​How ​do context specific and shifting patriarchal logics in national and diasporic geographies continue to mark the lesbian figure?​​
  • ​​Can lesbian representations transgress binaries associated with South Asian cultures, such as the private/public, traditional/modern, free/oppressed, visibility/invisibility and complicate hierarchies of gender, class, ​race, ethnicity, ​and caste?
  • How are lesbian political cultures, activism, and individuals' psychologies impacted by this contemporary era of lesbian visibility in​/from​ South Asia?
  • How do political and legal struggles for freedom and recognition impact lesbian communities and cultural productions?
  • What kind of heterogeneities do dialogues between activism, scholarship, aesthetics, and various experiences of being/becoming lesbian in South Asia reveal and offer?
  • Do coalitions between activists, researchers, and artists across the geo-political boundaries of South Asia hold a promise of possibilities of solidarities within South Asia and offer a decolonial understanding of what it means to be/become lesbian in South Asia?
  • How do relationships with multiple South Asian diasporas and the queer international community shape and impact cultural productions and subjectivities?

Submission Instructions

We welcome essays from any disciplinary perspective of up to 6,500 words. We also encourage submissions of short, public-facing, and/or experimental articles, as well as visual art and poetry.

Please send your 250-500 word proposal to [email protected] and Ella Ben Hagai ([email protected]) by December 15, 2023, and full manuscripts by May 1, 2024.

Please spread the call far and wide. The Journal of Lesbian Studies is a peer-reviewed journal published by Taylor and Francis.

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