Desire, Sexuality and Culture
Krishna Menon
(HI)STORIES OF DESIRE: SEXUALITIES AND CULTURE IN MODERN INDIA by Rajeev Kumaramkandath and Sanjay Srivastava Cambridge University Press, 2020, 255 pp., 795.00
May 2021, volume 45, No 5

(Hi)Stories of Desire is set to be a landmark publication on culture in modern India. It maps this via the route of sexualities and draws upon a diverse set of disciplinary locations and research to do so. In addition to a very comprehensive introductory chapter co-authored by the editors Rajeev Kumaramkandath and Sanjay Srivastava, the book has eleven very fascinating chapters written by a mix of young and seasoned scholars from diverse perspectives.  And yet, the connecting link in the book is the attempt by all scholars to draw the reader’s attention to the tenuous nature of concepts such as culture and sexualities.  It is also  held together by an attempt to bring out the various conversations in India on the theme without adopting a nativist stand that seeks to proclaim either the antiquity or originality of such discussions.  Histories and literatures of India are two very important entry points that this book employs to engage with the theme of sexualities.  Sexuality as it has been experienced and lived by men, women and others and the accounts of this in fiction, memoirs and life narratives drawn from Bengali, Malayalam and other Indian languages add a very distinct flavour to this collection.

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