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Durba Mitra, Carol K. Pforzheimer Assistant Professor at the Radcliffe Institute and Assistant Professor of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, has been awarded the Bernard S. Cohn Book Prize by the Association for Asian Studies for her book, Indian Sex Life: Sexuality and the Colonial Origins of Modern Social Thought.

The book prize honors “outstanding and innovative scholarship across discipline and country of specialization for a first single-authored monograph on South Asia.” Indian Sex Life, which demonstrates how ideas of deviant female sexuality became foundational to modern social thought, also received an honorable mention for the J. Willard Hurst Book Prize from the Law & Society Association.

Durba Mitra, Carol K. Pforzheimer Assistant Professor, Radcliffe Institute; Assistant Professor of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, Harvard University.

Mitra, a Mittal Institute steering committee member, works at the intersection of feminist and queer studies. Her scholarship analyzes the history of sexuality in the global south, histories of science and social science, and the politics of gender in the colonial and postcolonial world.

The Harvard Gazette spoke with Mitra about Indian Sex Life – read the conversation below. 

The questions [for Indian Sex Life] were rooted in the thinking about science and epistemology, but really the burning question was: How do we think about the ubiquity of women’s sexuality in the study of the past and futures of our societies? How have often deeply troubling ideas about the control and erasure of women’s sexuality shaped modern social theory?

Professor Durba Mitra