Thicker than blood? Masculinities and Male Friendships in South Asia *DEADLINE EXTENDED*

deadline for submissions: 
November 30, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Debadrita Chakraborty, Assistant Professor, School of Liberal Studies, UPES

PLEASE NOTE: Currently I am looking for abstract submissions on the topic related to Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh only.

For the occident a surprising cultural norm in India is that of men holding hands. Seen as unconventional and in sharp contrast to the West, the phenomenon symbolic of India (in particular) and South Asia at large became a project in 2018 whereby photographer Vincent Dolman created a series depicting an organic and intimate aspect of male friendship. Appreciating such uninhibitedness in a country given to rampant homophobia and toxic masculinity Dolman in one of his interviews observes, how such practices hold a mirror to society and societal conventions of masculine constructions and performances.

While scholarship on men and masculinities have mostly focused on boyhood, fatherhood, patriarchy, misogyny, toxicity and male power and authority in South Asia, very few have addressed friendships and youth subcultures in masculine contexts. The issue aims to examine male friendships, camaraderie and displays of emotions and the ways in which such homosocial relations aid in the construction and performances of both urban and rural masculinities in India. Social construction of friendships in relation to masculine performance will also be examined from South Asian countries such as Afghanistan, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The issue aims to trace the political and cultural history of male friendships in South Asia from the ancient to the contemporary period to critique the heteronormative patriarchal structures within the subcontinent that have forced men to suppress ‘a whole range of human needs, aims, feelings and forms of expression’ (Kaufman, 1998). Some of the questions that will be asked in this issue are: What does male friendship look like beyond the imagination of the patriarchal heteronormative gaze and metanarrative?  How are male friendships portrayed in popular culture of 20th and 21st century South Asia? How have South Asian men overcome gender stereotypes to portray complex ideas of friendship and consequently a softer and more sensitive form of masculinity?

We seek essays that examine political and cultural representations of male friendship and masculinity in cinema, fiction, life writing, comics, non-fiction and other forms of popular culture such as video games, visual arts, photography, social media, music etc.  Essays should be no more than 7000 words including footnotes and bibliography.

 Topics include but are not limited to:

  • Memory and friendship
  • Friendships in cinema, popular culture and other forms of visual and material culture
  • Subcultures and friendship in the diaspora
  • Friendships at the intersections of age, caste, class, culture, religion
  • Pre-colonial and postcolonial friendships
  • Friendships during partition and the Bangladesh liberation war
  • Friendship as acts of resistance
  • Role of male friendships in coming of age narratives
  • Power dynamics in male friendships
  • Friendships arising out of political activism
  • Digital media and friendships including male peer support practices
  • Online gaming and male friendships

Interested contributors are requested to send  a 500 word abstract with a title along with a 100 word biography no later than 30th November, 2023 to All papers submitted will go through the standard peer review process.

Acceptance notifications shall be sent by 15th December 2023. The proposed volume is under consideration of being published by an international academic publisher of repute.