Anthology titled Queer Potli: Memories, Imaginations and Re-imaginations of Urban Queer Spaces in India – published by Queer Ink, Mumbai; curated and edited by Pawan Dhall, Founding Trustee, Varta Trust; first published in August 2016 as an e-book, updated print and e-book versions published in November 2019; please click here to buy your copy. Blurb graphic credit: Queer Ink. Book cover artwork credit: Rudra Kishore Mandal.
Synopsis: What happened in Voodoo, Mumbai’s first gay bar and nightclub? How did daily commute in a crowded local train between Barasat and Kolkata shape someone’s queer experience? Does ‘home’ truly signify safety for a queer woman? Has the virtual queer space transcended class divisions? Is the concept of ‘space’ itself queer in comparison to the other four elements of life? This anthology explores these questions, amongst many others, through artistic expressions and personal and shared experiences of love and loss, some nostalgic and some full of hope, some humorous and some educational. The anthology brings together a uniquely diverse blend of experiences that explores human stories, giving us a peek into the urban spaces we occupy from queer perspectives.
Working report titled Social Media, Sexuality and Sexual Health Advocacy in Kolkata, India – published by Bloomsbury, Delhi in April 2017; authored by Dr. Rohit K. Dasgupta, Lecturer, Institute for Media and Creative Industries, Loughborough University, UK (earlier with the University of Southampton, UK when work started on the study); Pawan Dhall, Founding Trustee, Varta Trust; and Dr. Paul Boyce, Senior Lecturer in Anthropology and International Development, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK; copies available here. Graphic credit: Bloomsbury. Book cover photograph credits: Pawan Dhall.
Synopsis: This study explores emerging digital platforms in India and examines the challenges and opportunities of using these platforms for sexual health advocacy amongst gay men, other men who have sex with men, and trans women in Kolkata. This working report identifies and reports on the uses of social media, mobile media and other digital platforms, and the experiences of using them for developing advocacy and support campaigns. The study was commissioned by the Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton as part of their project Mobile-ising for Sexual Health: Digital Technologies and Sexual Health Advocacy in India and funded by Wellcome Trust, London. Varta Trust contributed to the data collection, data analysis and report writing aspects of the study.
Book titled Out of Line and Offline: Queer Mobilizations in ‘90s Eastern India – published by Seagull Books, Kolkata in November 2019; authored by Pawan Dhall, Founding Trustee, Varta Trust with fellowship support from Svran-Apeejay Journalism Foundation, Delhi; please click here for purchasing a copy. Book cover painting credit: Mahmud Husain Laskar. Book cover design credit: Bishan Samaddar, Seagull Books. Image courtesy: Seagull Foundation for the Arts.
Synopsis: The 1990s and early 2000s were heady days for Indian queer people and their networks as they emerged from the shadows. These were days when queer communities were still criminalized and the Internet had not yet made inroads into most of India. Yet, queer people grouped together to deal with covert and overt forms of stigma, discrimination and violence in different spheres of life. Tracing the life stories of around a dozen queer individuals and their allies from eastern India, Out of Line and Offline dwells on the many ways in which queer communities were mobilized in the first decade of the movement in India, and how such mobilization affected the lives of queer people in the long run. Pawan Dhall draws on in-depth interviews, which generate compelling stories of individual lives and experiences in a society that was slowly being pressured to change. The author also delves into the archives of some of the earliest queer support forums in eastern India (example, the Counsel Club Archives) to reveal the ways in which the movement developed and grew. A thoroughly researched and poignantly human document, this volume will find an important place in the canon of literature on queer movements across the world.
Listen here to an interview with author Pawan Dhall as part of a podcast series Talking Queer: Archive, Activism, Creative Disruptions hosted by Dr. Caio Simões de Araújo who is associated with the GALA Queer Archive, Johannesburg, South Africa. The interview was conducted in November 2020 and the podcast was published in July 2021.
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