Suturing histories of caste and sexuality to histories of protest in India, this talk, “I Am Not Your Data: Sexuality, Caste, History,” rearranges the grammar of our ethical engagements with the past and present. At stake are the historical vernaculars – the data – that found the evidentiary regimes of rights and representation for minoritized subjects. Anjali Arondekar offers “intimations of andolan/protest, meditations that move between the heady inspirations of protest and the stultifying violence of state practices.” Andolan is, after all, a movement in Hindustani music, an alankar (combination/ornamentation of notes) that oscillates between one fixed note and its counterpart, touching, suffusing, all that lies in between, she said.
Arondekar is professor of feminist studies, and founding co-director, Center for South Asian Studies, at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research engages the poetics and politics of sexuality, caste and historiography, with a focus on Indian Ocean studies and South Asia.
She is the author of “For the Record: On Sexuality and the Colonial Archive in India” (Duke University Press, 2009, Orient Blackswan, India, 2010), winner of the Alan Bray Memorial Book Award for best book in lesbian, gay, or queer studies in literature and cultural studies, Modern Language Association (MLA), 2010. She is co-editor (with Geeta Patel) of “Area Impossible: The Geopolitics of Queer Studies,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies (2016). Her second book, “Abundance: Sexuality’s History” (Duke University Press, 2023), grows out of her interest in the archival figurations of sexuality, caste and capital in British and Portuguese colonial India.
In collaboration with the Furman Humanities Center, WGSS, and Middle East and Islamic Studies, the Department of History offers a year-long lecture series, “Queer Histories and Narratives.” The series focuses on histories, archives and sociopolitical representations of LGBTQIA+ communities across various spatial, temporal and cultural settings through an interdisciplinary lens. Bringing together scholars working on LGBTQIA+ histories or using queer theory as their methodological approach, the series sheds light on the importance and urgency of exploring the historical construction of gender and sexuality in the US and non-US localities for a novel, diverse and inclusive approach to historiography and contemporary politics.