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Reading double: Queer girls and Hindutva politics in The World Before Her

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This article examines the representation of Prachi, one of the chief subjects of the Indo-Canadian documentary The World Before Her, as a queer girl who finds the space to articulate her non-heteronormativity in a right-wing Hindu training camp for girls, the Durga Vahini. While made in 2012, this Canadian documentary, written and directed by Indo-Canadian film-maker Nisha Pahuja, was released in India in 2014, soon after Narendra Modi’s election, and was criticized by some as being a form of Hindutva propaganda. Drawing on the work of Antke Engel, Nikita Dhawan, Maria do Mar Castro Varela, Akhil Katyal and Kara Keeling, this article looks at the film-maker’s role in shaping the narrative and moments of linguistic, translational and affective excess to argue that queer politics, especially in postcolonial states, is not merely subversive but is also complicit in reinforcing hegemonic ideologies.
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Keywords: Durga Vahini; Hindutva; Indian documentary; hegemony; postcolonial studies; queer excess; queer theory

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of California

Publication date: January 1, 2019

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  • Studies in South Asian Film and Media (SAFM) is the most promising new journal in the field. This peer-reviewed publication is committed to looking at the media and cinemas of the Indian subcontinent in their social, political, economic, historical, and increasingly globalized and diasporic contexts. The journal will evaluate these topics in relation to class, caste, gender, race, sexuality, and ideology.
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