Monika Hirmer - Ecstatic Tantra: Pleasure, Motherhood and Cosmic Creativity

Key information

7:30 PM to 9:00 PM
Khalili Lecture Theatre

About this event

In this talk I wish to revise current scholarly understandings of esoteric Tantric practices—particularly concerning their subversive nature, the role of pleasure and the power of sexual fluids—by presenting the lived context and cosmological framework of a contemporary Śrīvidyā tradition in India. Diverging from the common perception that practices such as maithuna (ritual intercourse) are aimed solely at the empowerment of male practitioners by allowing them to exploit female practitioners for their sexual fluids, I suggest that esoteric practices revolve chiefly around female practitioners’ pleasure, motherhood and cosmic creativity. I support this revised perspective through ethnographic data from my anthropological fieldwork that illustrate the aims, techniques and worldly repercussions of maithuna.

Monika Hirmer has completed her PhD in Religions and Philosophies from SOAS, University of London (2022), following an MPhil in Anthropology from University of Hyderabad (2015). Her research, lying at the intersection of anthropology and philosophy, focuses on Śrīvidyā, Goddess traditions, South Asia, ontology and decolonisation. She is co-founder and editor of the publishing platform Decolonial Subversions and currently teaches at SOAS.