SOAS University of London

SOAS South Asia Institute

The Prince and his Genders: (Trans-?)Masculinity, Transformation, and Patriarchy in an Urdu Tale

IMG - Pasha Khan
Pasha M. Khan

Date: 13 April 2021Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 13 April 2021Time: 6:30 PM

Venue: Virtual Event

Type of Event: Webinar


This talk will explore gender, transformation, and patriarchy in the 19th-century Urdu Qissah-i Agar o Gul (Tale of Agar and Gul), a story of the deeds of Prince Agar, who begins his life as the daughter of the vizier of Poppyseed City. Agar's tale is queer in many senses, involving real or apparent same-sex desire, bursting with innuendoes and oddities, and driven by the question of Prince Agar's gender. The talk will question the romantic strategy of celebrating Agar's tale as an anti-patriarchal transgender narrative, and will begin an examination of the story's instances of transformation more broadly, in relation to desire. Prince Agar's maleness makes his tale revelatory of the oppressive force of norms of masculinity and the workings of patriarchy, hetero- or not, through representations of manly virtues, sexual pursuit, traffic in women, rape, and the possibility of a reproductive future.


Pasha M. Khan is Associate Professor and Chair in Urdu Language and Culture at the Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University. He is the author of The Broken Spell: Indian Storytelling and the Romance Genre in Persian and Urdu. He is currently writing an English translation of Agar's Tale, and a monograph on generosity and Islam in the qissahs of Hatim Ta'i.


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Organiser: SOAS South Asia Institute and Centres of Study for Pakistan

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