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Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
South Asian Popular Culture

For a Special Issue on
LGBTQ Popular Cultures in Contemporary South Asia and Its Diasporas: Queer Lives in Times of New Authoritarianism

Abstract deadline
14 April 2022

Manuscript deadline
30 October 2022

Cover image - South Asian Popular Culture

Special Issue Editor(s)

Somak Biswas, Institute of Historical Studies, University of London
[email protected]

Rohit K Dasgupta, University of Glasgow
[email protected]

Churnjeet Mahn, University of Strathclyde
[email protected]

Submit an ArticleVisit JournalArticles

LGBTQ Popular Cultures in Contemporary South Asia and Its Diasporas: Queer Lives in Times of New Authoritarianism

The editors welcome abstracts for a special issue of South Asian Popular Culture scheduled to appear in 2023.

Across South Asia and the world, new authoritarianisms have reignited old fault lines around sexuality. New authoritarianism refers to the current socio-political crisis which has seen great levels of enforcement and surveillance brought by government regimes, big technology, and the pandemic. At the same time, partial successes in LGBTQ+ rights (India, Nepal, Bangladesh) reflect very real if limited gains made in the wake of decades long struggles. Queer diasporas in the West have become major nodes in refracting a language of sexual rights in South Asian popular culture, bolstered by a cultural politics centred around sexual identity. New media technologies have increasingly connected diasporic space with mainland South Asia, globalising queer networks. Yet, these trajectories are necessarily discontinuous, often riven by social and geographical hierarchies.

The institutionalisation of queer asylum in global humanitarian protocols underline the sharp asymmetries LGBTQ+ communities face in much of South Asia, especially where homosexuality is legally forbidden. Nonetheless, a range of queer subcultures have flourished even in the most restrictive of social spaces, visible in the proliferation of digital and physical communities, such as those formed around queer Muslim or queer Dalit identities.

We take our definition of popular culture from Dick Hebdige as  ‘a set of generally available artefacts: films, records, clothes, TV programmes, modes of transport, etc.’ but of course go further to not just include other artefacts such as digital media, music and performance but also social processes such as shifts in perspectives and the meaning and interpretation of everyday realities. In the last two decades whilst we have seen an explosion of LGBTQ+ visibility most notably in South Asian film, television and new media this visibility has come with mainstream ideological agendas which does not especially represent the diversity of queer lives in South Asia along key identities of caste, class, religion and region. We rather propose a queering of popular culture⁠—a way of questioning dominant power knowledge formations that construct normative ideas of neoliberalism and regimes of truth. Queering popular culture provides a way of interrogating the nexus of cultural production and representation politics within the wider contexts of capital production and consumption.

In light of this context, we invite scholarly interventions from a range of locations, praxis, positions, disciplines and politics, that reflect on the variable trajectories of queerness in South Asian popular culture. We especially invite underrepresented areas (Fiji, Mauritius, East Africa, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan, South Africa, Malaysia, Singapore) and aspects (marriage equality, trans rights, HIV/AIDS, queer Muslim and Dalit identity) as well as new lines of enquiry on established topics (Article 377, homonationalism, Islamophobia, neoliberalism, queer films). Cumulatively, this special issue seeks to consolidate new scholarship that will expand our current understanding of queer South Asia and its diaspora.

Possible paper topics include but are not limited to:

  • Queer and Trans futurities
  • South Asian queer solidarities
  • Music
  • Queering South Asian cinemas
  • South Asian asexualities on screen
  • South Asian queer diasporas: intersectional political possibilities, solidarities and tensions in race, sexuality, and gender
  • Queer fan art/digital cultures
  • Queer performance
  • South Asian queer eroticisms
  • New media representations
  • Nationalisms
  • Queer kinships
  • Popular genres of writing
  • Histories of activism and community

Submission Instructions

We invite abstracts (300 words) for full research articles or working notes/shorter papers. Please include a short bio (60 words) with your abstract. We welcome scholars from all career stages.

Final research articles should be between 5,000-6,000 words, and working notes/papers should be between 2,000-3,000 words.

Invitations to selected authors to submit full articles subject to peer review will be sent by June 1, 2022.

Please submit abstracts to [email protected]

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article

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