Reading the Law Within Public Discourses
Pratiksha Baxi
LAW AND THE NEW EROTIC JUSTICE: POLITICS OF POSTCOLONIALISM by Ratna Kapur Permanent Black, 2006, 217 pp., 650
March 2006, volume 30, No 3

Ratna Kapur’s objective to outline a postcolonial feminist framework takes seriously, the emergence and legal regulation of what she terms the new sexual subaltern and of the new images of sex in contemporary Indian society. Telling the stories of law then is to interrogate the implication of law in the contemporary reformulations of culture and sexuality. Traversing many domains of law, different state agencies and the claims made by groups speaking on behalf of women or sexual subalterns, Kapur weaves a powerful argument to critique those manoeuvres that use cultural essentialism to inscribe sexual normativity while presenting culture as static and immutable. Her research, however, is not limited to the local, national and transnational contexts of legal regulation in the Indian subcontinent; rather her work also engages with what may be termed “diasporic” legalities. For instance, the circuits of power that inscribe the ‘transnational migrant subject’ — the subject ‘who crosses borders and occupies a subaltern position’ inform the discussion on the blurring of trafficking and migration, global flow of migrants in countries such as Britain, and Australian responses to refugee or asylum-seekers (p.139).

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