Narratives of Queer Space: An Inquisition in South Asian Literature
This panel establishes the presence of and explores queer themes and narratives in South Asian literature. While the focus is on the last forty years, we will also include more historic approaches as well. Participants may either focus on one country, work, or writer, or explore convergences and connections.
It is an often-accepted critical truism that South Asian Literature is devoid of its focus on narratives of queer resistance in its literature. Thus, the fight to highlight queer themes within larger heterosexual texts is more important than ever. South Asia with its rich and diverse literary background was never short of themes on queer genre but the practice was so normative at the same time so tabooed that it rarely found its way in literature.
Pakistani writers address the idea of a normative queer space in a range varying from domestic sphere to professional. Ismat Chughtai in her short story Lihaf (The Quilt) describes the narrator’s encounter with homosexuality in the household witnessing her adoptive sister engaging herself in intercourse with her servant while her husband indulges himself in the company of "young, fair and slim-waisted boys" or Muhammad Hanif in his novel A Case of Exploding Mangoes explores the blurred boundaries between soldiers turned friends turned lovers in the backdrop of a dictator’s rise and fall. Indian playwrights like Neel Chaudry and Lucky Ranjeet in their plays explain the seeking of same sex partners as a steady and acknowledged practice in urban and rural India and so on other south Asian writers have focused on the need for an inquisition of queer narratives.
Topics of interest might include but are not limited to the following:
· Challenges of accepting homosexual tolerance
· Constructions of homosexual masculinity
· Construction of queer identities and practices
· Gender-fluidity and or flexibility
· Non-conformity to biological or psychological queer identities in south Asian literature.