Harvard WGS professor Durba Mitra's first book, Indian Sex Life: Sexuality and the Colonial Origins of Modern Social Thought, will be released by Princeton University Press in January 2020. In Indian Sex Life, Mitra shows how deviant female sexuality, particularly the concept of the prostitute, became foundational to the knowledge project of European scholars, British officials, and elite Indian intellectuals during the colonial period in India, and became a primary way to think and write about Indian society. Mitra demonstrates how the intellectual history of modern social thought is based in a dangerous civilizational logic built on the control and erasure of women’s sexuality.
We congratulate Professor Mitra on this publication! Keep an eye on our website for information about a Spring 2020 book reception in her honor.
"Pathbreaking and original, Indian Sex Life establishes the central place of deviant female sexuality in discussions about Indian society in a range of disciplines. Departing from other studies about prostitution in the subcontinent, this valuable work makes significant contributions to the literature on colonial India and to the voluminous writings on gender and sexuality in South Asia. It will compel global scholars of sexuality to question their existing assumptions."—Douglas E. Haynes, Dartmouth College
"Durba Mitra's deeply researched and ambitious study of how ideas about the prostitute shaped Indian social thought deserves to stand alongside the foundational work of Judith Walkowitz and Alain Corbin. Indian Sex Life shows how central the history of ideas and fantasies about female sexuality is to understanding the history of ideas and fantasies about society and the state."—Sharon Marcus, Columbia University