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photo of Purnima Mankekar

IAS lecture: the dangerous erotics of the (missing) foreskin: Love Jihad and digital affect in India

About this event

This event is an IAS nation theme lecture.

During the violence surrounding the Partition of India, the foreskin - or its lack, in the case of circumcised Muslim males – became a matter of life and death.

Marauding Hindu mobs would corner Muslim males and make them drop their trousers: if the men turned out to be circumcised, they would be murdered, rendering the male Muslim body a target of violence. This violence did not appear in a vacuum. The male Muslim body was targeted precisely because it was considered threatening to Hindu women who were deemed particularly vulnerable to the purported sexual appetites of Muslim men.

In the talk, Purnima Mankekar will focus on some of the newest iterations of the targeting of male Muslims in campaigns launched by the Hindu right against what they have termed 'Love Jihad'. According to the affectively-charged discourses undergirding these campaigns, Muslim men seduce Hindu women into falling in love with them with the aim to convert them: these alleged acts are represented as part of a larger project of Love Jihad, the ultimate goal of which is to produce a demographic shift so that the Muslim minority is able to outnumber Hindus.

She argues that digital media have played a crucial role in the affective recharging of older discourses of the threatening male Muslim body and their remediation into newer, ever more violent, forms of religious and racial Othering.

Trained as a cultural anthropologist, Purnima Mankekar has conducted interdisciplinary research on media and publics/public cultures with a focus on the politics of affect. She is currently completing a book on affective labour and the production of futurities in the Business Process Outsourcing industry in Bengaluru, India titled 'Future Tense: Affective Labor and Disjunctive Temporalities' (co-authored with Akhil Gupta).

She has received numerous awards and fellowships for her research including a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at Duke University (1997-98), a Bunting Fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University (2000-01), a Stanford University Humanities Center fellowship (2005-06), and was a senior research fellow at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore (2013). 

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