South Asian Pornographies: Vernacular Formations of the Permissible and the Obscene

full name / name of organization: 
Anirban Baishya (University of Southern California)
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This special issue of Porn Studies focuses on the varied notions of the pornographic and the obscene that are in currency in the geopolitical region of South Asia. Starting with the question of how a porn studies approach can be applied to view various regional formations of pornography, this issue aims to explore whether a particular "vernacular" idea of pornography can be arrived at through such an enquiry. Like questions of identity that can only be answered in the plural (identities rather than identity), this issue seeks papers that will demonstrate how a range of pornographies constitutes the force field of sexualized media in South Asia.

South Asia as a geo-political location has a unique relationship to pornography, given the multiplicity of cultural and legal-censorial regimes that define the obscene and the permissible. Questions of pornography in South Asia have often been looked at through the lens of censorship and/or morality. While this remains a potent framework, this issue seeks to push the question of South-Asian pornographies in further directions. Research material from the South Asian region can demonstrate how pornography is often defined in oblique terms, finding reflection in various modes of popular (and sometimes underground) culture, bypassing legal and censorial constraints.

How is pornographic media articulated via diverse cultural and aesthetic formations in South Asia? What is the status of pornographic ephemera and fragments such as cut-pieces and viral video and how may they require a rethinking of existing porn scholarship? What does the notion of the region have to offer to a comparative understanding of pornographic expression? These are key methodological questions, for
while they focus on one particular region, they raise a larger general question—can we think of pornography in the plural? Can there be one standard of the obscene and the titillating that can apply across cultural, political and geographic formations? What can the idea of the "vernacular" add to our understanding of sexual imaginaries and their relationship to more direct and visible questions of identity, morality and permissibility?

This special issue invites papers exploring such questions across a range of media including, but not limited to films, Internet video, pornographic literature and pulp fiction. Probable topics include:

• Law and censorship regimes in South Asia.
• Regionally specific "genres" of pornography.
• Vernacular pulp-fiction and the pornographic imagination.
• Local industrial practices of porn production.
• Exhibition and distribution practices.
• Trans-regional flows of pornographic media.
• "Local" porn forums on the Internet.
• Pornography and/as sex-education.
• Ethnographic studies of porn consumption practices.

Submission Details:

Articles for peer-review should be between 5000-8000 words. Shorter thought pieces of approximately 1500-2000 words may also be submitted, and the editors will make a selection for the Forum section. All articles must include bibliographic information. For details about formatting and style please see ctions#.VYUQrhNViko.

How to Submit:

All the manuscripts must be submitted online. Please consult the Authors and Submissions tab in the journal website for more information, and the Submit Online link is there as well:‐Gh.

Submission Deadlines:

Please send abstracts of up to 350 words and a bio-note to or by February 1st, 2017. The deadline for full manuscripts is December 1st, 2017. The special issue will be published in 2019.

Editorial Information:

• Guest Editor: Darshana Sreedhar Mini (
• Guest Editor: Anirban Kapil Baishya (