Back/Side Entry: Queer/Postcolonial Representations of South Asia
thesisposted on 26.03.2012, 09:03 by Sandeep Bakshi
Back/Side Entry examines contemporary queer fiction in English from South Asia and its diasporas. It underscores the critical significance of a double-pronged theoretical approach by combining insights from queer and postcolonial scholarship. Building upon recent research that re-maps queer discourses through an encounter with postcolonial theory and narratives, this thesis argues that South Asian queer fiction disputes the Western bias in queer paradigms, and challenges the elision of sexual and gender non-normativity in postcolonial studies in order to make both queer and postcolonial sites truly transformational. It interrupts routine practices of absorption and gradual obliteration of non-Western/non-White subjects in standard accounts of queerness and concur-rently locates queer self-representation from postcolonial/diasporic South Asian writers as central to a discussion of the larger conceptual debates in queer theory. Queer narratives from South Asia and its diasporas emphasise the significance of postcolonial, diasporic, ethnic, racial, religious, class, caste and linguistic formations in addressing questions related to the representation of alternative genders and sexualities. Through a close reading of novels by Hanif Kureishi, Leslie de Noronha, P. Parivaraj, Shyam Selvadurai, Ghalib Shiraz Dhalla and R. Raj Rao, this thesis analyses South Asian queer formulations, which simultaneously continue and contest Western models of queer identity. The focus on unconventional arrangements of gender and sexuality in the postcolonial site of South Asia repositions the field of queer studies towards non-Euro-American contexts and legitimates the status of “queer” as a pluralistic critical formation. This thesis extends the transnational/trans-disciplinarian academic framework that registers a rising discontent with Western models of global queerness and contributes to the growing presence of non-white, non-Western and Third World voices in queer studies. Adding to newly emergent discussions of queer subjectivity in South Asia, it offers an original contribution to the field through a thorough investigation of current South Asian queer fiction.