The Erotic: 2021 CSA Graduate Student Workshop

Mural on a street in Karachi depicting Pakistani social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch who was killed in 2016.

Mural on a street in Karachi depicting Pakistani social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch who was killed in 2016.

Photo credit @FurSid, via Twitter with permissions. (January 3, 2018) 

May 7, 2021 | 12:30PM TO 5:00PM Pacific

Organizers: Rishika Mehrishi (Ph.D. Candidate in Theater and Performance Studies) and Ankita Deb (Ph.D. Candidate in Art and Art History)

The erotic is powerful, provocative, and performative. The 2021 CSA Graduate Student Workshop explores the genealogies of the erotic as they traverse the entangled terrains of precolonial, imperialist, nationalist, postcolonial, and neoliberal thought.

Do the ideals of a modern nation-state recuperate and redefine precolonial iterations of the erotic? What have been the valences of tethering the sensual with sexuality for gendered and queered discourses, intimacies, and activisms? How do we decenter the erotic from the carnal in postcolonial legacies of South Asia? In what ways does the erotic “queer” realms of the uncanny, impossible, and the unnamable? And what other modes of libidinal conditions arise that produce new formulations of desire, consumption, and pleasure? Animated by these broad questions, the workshop gathers an interdisciplinary group of graduate students at all levels to explore the embodied, political, social, and affective textures of the erotic.


Due to the pandemic, the workshop participants will discuss pre-circulated papers in Zoom breakout rooms from 12:45 pm to 1:45 pm Pacific. The participants will reconvene at 2pm Pacific for a discussion of pertinent issues that emerged around the theme of The Erotic.

The workshop will conclude with a keynote lecture by Professor Anjali Arondekar (UCSC) at 3:30pm Pacific. The lecture is open to the general public. See more details about the keynote below.

Workshop Schedule

May 6, 2021

12:00 - 1:00pm:      PRE-WORKSHOP OPTIONAL EVENT

Arts and Justice Series

May 7, 2021

12:30 - 12:45pm:  WELCOME NOTE by Professor Jisha Menon; OPENING COMMENTS by co-organizers Ankita Deb and Rishika Mehrishi
12:45 - 1:45pm:    PANEL DISCUSSION in Zoom Breakout Rooms (Please note that the panels will discuss pre-circulated papers.)
Drishadwati Bargi (University of Minnesota, Department of Asian Languages and Literature) “Erotics without Intimacy: Exploring Desire, Self-loss and the Beyond, in two Dalit Texts”
Mehak Faisal Khan (UC Berkeley, Department of English) “Exile, Play, and the Quest for Joy in narrating Aesthetics of Discomfort”

Rishika Mehrishi (Stanford, Department of Theatre and Performance Studies) “Flights of Fantasy: Performing with the Buraq”

Themal Ellawala (University of Illinois, Department of Anthropology) “The Erotics of Violence: Imagining the Utopic and Intimate Possibilities of Queerphobia”
Ankit Kawade and Antaripa Bharali (Jawaharlal Nehru University, Centre for Political Studies) “Erotic Maneuvers in Transgressive Relationships: A Study of the Politics of Touching and Not-Touching”

Silpa Mukherjee (University of Pittsburgh, Department of English) “An Affair to Remember: The Cult of Disco in 1980s Bombay”

Ankita Deb (Stanford University, Department of Art and Art History) “Erotic Encounters of Film Censorship: Reading Affect and Desire in Khosla Committee Report”
Shruti Vaidya (University of Chicago, Department of Comparative Human Development) “Interpreting and Enacting Sexuality: Intellectually Disabled People, “Special” Educators, and Expertise in India”

Rashi Mishra (Stanford, Department of Theatre and Performance Studies) “Performing Shame: Naked Protest by the Mothers of Manipur” 

1:45 - 2:00pm:      BREAK
2:00 - 3:00pm:      GENERAL DISCUSSION on emergent themes from the subgroup sessions
3:00 - 3:30pm:      BREAK/Informal Chit Chat
3:30 - 5:00pm:      KEYNOTE by Professor Anjali Arondekar - "A History I am Not Writing: Sexuality, Exemplarity, South Asia"; Q&A


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