Postcolonial Kamasutra

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Love’s RiteLove’s Rite: Same-Sex Marriage in India and the West
by Ruth Vanita
Palgrave Macmillan. 288 pages, $65.

 

IN LOVE’S RITE, Ruth Vanita takes us through a memory hole of Asian history to a world where the forgotten (sometimes suppressed) esoterica of same-sex couplings can be found. The country is India and the time is before British colonial rule. According to Vanita, South Asia had “no premodern history of persecuting people for same-sex relations. … Under colonial rule, what was a minor strain of homophobia in Indian traditions became the dominant ideology. The British introduced in India, as in most countries they colonized, a law criminalizing any type of sex other than penile-vaginal penetrative sex.”

Colonial influence helped so-called social reformers purge Indian premodern literature of its homoerotic elements and to heterosexualize Indian classics such as the Urdu Ghazal. But

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