Complaint! (2021), with Sara Ahmed
In Complaint! Sara Ahmed examines what we can learn about power from those who complain about abuses of power. Drawing on oral and written testimonies from academics and students who have made complaints about harassment, bullying, and unequal working conditions at universities, Ahmed explores the gap between what is supposed to happen when complaints are made and what actually happens. This book offers a systematic analysis of the methods used to stop complaints and a powerful and poetic meditation on what complaints can be used to do. In this episode, we chat about their journey of collecting the narratives of this book, how complaint can be a feminist pedagogy, how it can queer time, the politics of evidencing & testimony, & much more.
Unruly Figures: Queerness, Sex Work, and the Politics of Sexuality in Kerala (2019), with Navaneetha Mokkil
Navaneetha Mokkil tracks the cultural practices through which sexual figures—particularly the sex worker and the lesbian—are produced in the public imagination. Her analysis includes representations of the prostitute figure in popular media, trajectories of queerness in Malayalam films, public discourse on lesbian sexuality, the autobiographical project of sex worker and activist Nalini Jameela, and the memorialization of murdered transgender activist Sweet Maria, showing how various marginalized figures stage their own fractured journeys of resistance in the post-1990s context of globalization. In the episode, we chat about her book in the larger context of politics and culture in Kerala, and more.
Hijras, Lovers, Brothers: Surviving Sex and Poverty in Rural India (2021), with Vaibhav Saria
Against easy framings of hijras that render them marginalized, Saria shows how hijras makes the normative Indian family possible. The book also shows that particular practices of hijras, such as refusing to use condoms or comply with retroviral regimes, reflect not ignorance, irresponsibility, or illiteracy but rather a specific idiom of erotic asceticism arising in both Hindu and Islamic traditions. This idiom suffuses the densely intertwined registers of erotics, economics, and kinship that inform the everyday lives of hijras and offer a repertoire of self-fashioning beyond the secular horizons of public health or queer theory. In this widely heard episode, we chat about their book, our disdain for Lacan, the ethical and moral worlds of anthropologists, and much more.
Indian Migration and Empire: A Colonial Genealogy of the Modern State (2018), with Radhika Mongia
How did states come to monopolize control over migration? What do the processes that produced this monopoly tell us about the modern state? Radhika Mongia provocatively argues that the formation of colonial migration regulations was dependent upon, accompanied by, and generative of profound changes in normative conceptions of the modern state. Focused on state regulation of colonial Indian migration between 1834 and 1917, Mongia illuminates the genesis of central techniques of migration control. In this episode, we talk about how state control of migration was critical to the transformation of a world dominated by empire-states into a world dominated by nation-states, about consent and its temporality, pandemic borders, and more.
For a more expansive history of my institutional and voluntary service, you can find my full length CV below.