In Abundance, Anjali Arondekar refutes the historical common sense that archival loss is foundational to a subaltern history of sexuality. Instead, Arondekar theorizes the radical abundance of sexuality through the archives of the Gomantak Maratha Samaj—a caste-oppressed devadasi collective in South Asia—that are plentiful and quotidian, imaginative and ordinary.
For Arondekar, abundance is inextricably linked to the histories of subordinated groups in ways that challenge the narratives of their constant devaluation. Summoning abundance over loss upends settled habits of historical recuperation and representation and works against the imperative to fix sexuality and caste within wider structures of vulnerability, damage, and precarity. Arondekar’s turn to abundance does not replace paucity with overflow; rather it unravels a set of archives that are fertile ground for producing and contesting our attachments to history-writing. Three concepts are at stake here: archives (what constitutes historical evidence), exemplarity (how do we read evidence) and geopolitics (where do we read from).
This comparative and provocative history marshals its archival materials from a range of historical and literary sources in English, Marathi, Konkani and Portuguese. Multigeneric and multilingual, transregional and historically supple, Abundance centers sexuality within post/colonial, and anti/caste histories.
Abundance extends connections between Dalit/Bahujan studies and queer studies, between historical forms and political narratives, and will push scholars to interrogate orientations to caste, sexuality and historiography in South Asia.
Anjali Arondekar is Professor of Feminist Studies and Founding Director, Center for South Asian Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, USA.
Make. Believe. Sexuality’s Subjects
1. In the Absence of Reliable Ghosts: Archives
2. A History I Am Not Writing: Sexuality’s Exemplarity
3. Itinerant Sex: Geopolitics as Critique
I Am Not Your Data. Caste, Sexuality, Protest