Sex, gender, and sexuality in colonial modernity: Towards a sociology of webbed connectivities Book Chapter

Patil, V. (2017). Sex, gender, and sexuality in colonial modernity: Towards a sociology of webbed connectivities . 142-159. 10.1017/9781316711248.007

cited authors

  • Patil, V



  • Introduction In recent years, scholarship on the relationship between sex, sexuality, and race in a transnational context has grown considerably. Within this broader arena, scholars across a number of (inter)disciplines including history, philosophy, gender studies, and sexuality studies have argued that Euro-American colonial relations were key in circulating, privileging, and solidifying racialized, heteronormative sex, and gender binaries across colonies and metropoles (see for example Lugones 2007; Woollacott 2006). This chapter has two main aims. First, I make an assessment of, and contribution to, the development of this historical-transnational lens. I do so by developing a relationally oriented, “connected histories” historical sociological account (see Bhambra 2010; also, Introduction of this volume) of the transnational connections this approach emphasizes. I center a number of overlapping and interconnected agents, including global capital, post/colonial states, material culture, the western sciences, and the Catholic Church, highlighting the relationships they collectively establish among multiple, often divergent, and seemingly discrete sex, gender, and sexuality regimes. I term this a webbed connectivities approach to sex, gender, and sexuality, and I argue that such an approach takes seriously the ways in which coloniality, or the complex, multiple, and multidirectional cross-border colonial processes, circuits, and formations, have shaped and continue to shape racialized notions of sex, gender, and sexuality in different locales today. Second, I bring this historical-transnational lens to bear on the discipline of sociology and its productions regarding sex, gender, and sexuality. I do this first by situating early sociological productions of sex, gender, and sexuality within the historical backdrop drawn above. A number of scholars have shown that as the discipline of sociology developed within metropolitan centers in the late 1800s and early 1900s - at a time when European colonial empires (along with their North American kin) reached almost every part of the globe - sociology was profoundly shaped by this colonial context (Bhambra 2007b; Connell 1997; Magubane 2005). Scholars have argued that not only were early metropolitan writers in Germany, Britain, France, the United States, and so on influenced by the larger colonial discourses their societies produced, they also played key roles in advancing these discourses. While I build on this work, I depart in my focus from existing sociological writing on sex, gender, and sexuality.

publication date

  • January 1, 2017

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

International Standard Book Number (ISBN) 13

start page

  • 142

end page

  • 159