New Books Network

Ishtyle: Accenting Gay Indian Nightlife (University of Michigan Press, 2020) follows queer South Asian men across borders into gay neighborhoods, nightclubs, bars, and house...

Ishtyle: Accenting Gay Indian Nightlife (University of Michigan Press, 2020) follows queer South Asian men across borders into gay neighborhoods, nightclubs, bars, and house parties in Bangalore and Chicago. Bringing the cultural practices they are most familiar with into these spaces, these men accent the aesthetics of nightlife cultures through performance.

Kareem Khubchandani develops the notion of “ishtyle” to name this accented style, while also showing how brown bodies inadvertently become accents themselves, ornamental inclusions in the racialized grammar of desire.  Ishtyle allows us to reimagine a global class perpetually represented as docile and desexualized workers caught in the web of global capitalism.

The book highlights a different kind of labor, the embodied work these men do to feel queer and sexy together. Engaging major themes in queer studies, Khubchandani explains how his interlocutors’ performances stage relationships between: colonial law and public sexuality; film divas and queer fans; and race, caste, and desire.

Ultimately, the book demonstrates that the unlikely site of nightlife can be a productive venue for the study of global politics and its institutional hierarchies.

Kareem Khubchandani is Mellon Bridge Assistant Professor of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Tufts University. Khubchandani was awarded the 2019 CLAGS Fellowship from CLAGS: Center for LGBTQ Studies for the Ishtyle manuscript.


Sneha Annavarapu is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Chicago.