Vol. 2 No. 1 (2022): Despite the Pandemic

The (Colonial) History of Sexuality: The Colonial Categorization of Sexuality in Colonized India

Published June 6, 2022


This is a South Asian theory-building paper on the intersection of gender and colonization critiquing western philosophical notions on a history of human sexuality that omits colonialism as a primary factor in the sociological normalization of sexual repression and sexual violence. Using staple texts and foundational authors highlighting the material implications of Post-Modernist theory in the field of gender studies, such as Michel Foucault and Veronique Mottier, this paper identifies the shortcomings of said theories. Then, the paper compares the pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial material conditions of the South Asian countries of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh grouped by mirrored cultural and geopolitical ties. Pre-colonial historical documentation showed that ancient to medieval cultures held varied but still normalized notions on sexual relations that are non-monogamous, extra-marital, and same-gender. Colonial case studies identified how racialization, Victorian Puritanism, and masculinity identified repressive and sexually violent British administration. Post-colonial analysis on contemporary material conditions showed how colonization was the turning point in Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi sexual attitudes and the concrete implications this research has stigmatized genders and sexual practices in South Asia. This research theorizes the origins of contemporary sexual attitudes as originating from methods of colonization and their greater modern-day connections.