Celibacy, Sexuality, and the Transformation of Gender into Nationalism in North India


Alter, Joseph S. 1994. “Celibacy, Sexuality, and the Transformation of Gender into Nationalism in North India.” The Journal of Asian Studies 53 (1): 45–66.

Author: Joseph S. Alter


JOSEPH ALTER examines the present-day use of the Hindu concept of brahmacharya (celibacy) as it relates to questions of gender and nationalism in North India. He argues that the practice of celibacy can be best understood as a form of political action directed against the post-colonial forces of desire. He shows how the discourse on celibacy has focused on the bio-moral nature of semen, and on how semen is taken to embody truth. Because semen is inherently male, he argues, the present-day discourse on nationalism has become increasingly centered on males as the source of truth. Celibacy thus has become the agency for a form of gendered nationalism.

Topics: Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Gender, Men, Nationalism, Religion, Sexuality Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 1994

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