Charu Gupta, Professor of History, The University of Delhi
Gupta’s talk will draw from their research of more than thirty years on different subjects and arenas, to reflect on how and why the vernacular has been her constitutive archive to study sex and sexuality in colonial India. Questioning the authority and authenticity of the official archive, and inspired in part by the intellectual provocations of Dalit and feminist studies, she will not only point to erasures and silences in the archives, not only seek to read between the lines, but show how her work attempts to reframe the archive by exploring diverse histories of sexuality in vernacular imaginative texts. The vernacular has been central to her work also because, unlike a focus on cataclysmic events, it is a tactic of the everyday, the mundane and the anecdotal, where gender, sex and sexuality are often ubiquitous. The widely differentiated vernacular public sphere of early twentieth century north India reveals how dominant trends towards greater regulation of sexuality jostled with potential instabilities and counter-sexualities, making room for a more robust history of sex and sexuality.