Queering the Kitchen: Reimagining Intimate Spaces and Queer Bodies in South Asian Literature

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Anurati Dutta


The kitchen is a space of sharing, a space of intimacy, and to the heteronormative imaginary it is a space where culinary subjects of the next generation are reproduced, a space that strengthens the patriarchal structures of family and kinship. South Asian Literature can be an effective tool in locating queer bonds in domestic spaces, where there are resistance and reclamation of intimate spaces and queer bodies. In the Sri Lankan novel, Bodies in Motion by Mary Anne Mohanraj, we see one of the many characters Mangai, is marked as the queer subject from the very beginning. It is her kitchen that is a space of queer intimate relationship for her; it is her body that is resilient in this space which is otherwise a site of violence. For Heer in Tehmina Durrani’s Pakistani novel Blasphemy, it is domestic spaces like kitchen and the courtyard that goes beyond the bedroom: the space of her violence and creates a space of intimacy, which strengthens bonds of sisterhood between her and Kaali, the maid by going beyond the connotations of sexual urge. My paper will try to look at these South Asian novels, by focusing on how the queer kitchen brings forth possible alternate forms of care that moves beyond the heteronormative patriarchal society’s idea of women and care, how these intimate spaces try to create a space of bond, keeping in mind the body politics of queer women. It will try to address and decipher questions like what happens to the queer kitchen? What is the ultimate destiny of queer intimacy in the domestic spaces within the South Asian Context? My paper will try to reformulate a new methodology in regards to culinary narratives and the associated queer potentialities in the context of South Asia.

Published: Nov 14, 2022

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