Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2009

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Kevin Kopelson

Second Advisor

Priya Kumar

First Committee Member

Corey Creekmur

Second Committee Member

Mary Lou Emery

Third Committee Member

Meena Khandelwal

Fourth Committee Member

Teresa Mangum


This dissertation argues that the representation of queer space in colonial and postcolonial Indian fiction and film counters the marginalization of the sexual dissidents, both in the Indian nation-state and the Indian diaspora. The spatial reclamation in these texts, I contend, also interrogates the received notion of queer empowerment by shifting the emphasis from visibility and inclusion to alternative agential modes such as secrecy and camouflage. This departure from liberal Eurocentric discourses defines the essence of my project. The main body of my dissertation consists of analysis of texts by Anglophone, regional and diasporic Indian writers and filmmakers: Rabindranath Tagore's short stories (c.1890), Ismat Chughtai's "Lihaaf" (1941), Shani Mootoo's "Out on Main Street" (1993), Nisha Ganatra's Chutney Popcorn (1999), Anita Nair's Ladies Coupe (2001), Manju Kapur's A Married Woman (2002), and R.Raj Rao's The Boyfriend (2003). I examine the different ways in which these texts represent queer space and how they imagine an alternate cartography for the disenfranchised sexual citizens. In order to contextualize the process of this dispossession, I examine the relationship between colonialism, nationalism and alternative sexualities by focusing on the contemporary historical and theoretical debates around the issues. My theoretical framework combines two emergent discourses in contemporary academia: cultural geography and postcolonial rethinking of the constructions of gender and sexuality. In the texts that I examine, queer space emerges as a site of contestation with an underlying consciousness of conflicts, not as utopian loci of disconnection with reality.


Fiction, Film, India, Postcolonial, Queer, Space


iii, 188 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 182-188).


Copyright 2009 Sucheta Mallick Choudhuri