Call for Papers: South Asian Pornographies

Porn Studies

South Asian Pornographies: Vernacular Formations of the Permissible and the Obscene


This special issue of Porn Studies focuses on the varied notions of the pornographic and the obscene that are in currency in the geopolitical region of South Asia. Starting with the question of how a porn studies approach can be applied to view various regional formations of pornography, this issue aims to explore whether a particular “vernacular” idea of pornography can be arrived at through such an enquiry. Like questions of identity that can only be answered in the plural (identities rather than identity), this issue seeks papers that will demonstrate how a range of pornographies constitutes the force field of sexualized media in South Asia.

South Asia as a geo-political location has a unique relationship to pornography, given the multiplicity of cultural and legal-censorial regimes that define the obscene and the permissible. Questions of pornography in South Asia have often been looked at through the lens of censorship and/or morality. While this remains a potent framework, this issue seeks to push the question of South-Asian pornographies in further directions. Research material from the South Asian region can demonstrate how pornography is often defined in oblique terms, finding reflection in various modes of popular (and sometimes underground) culture, bypassing legal and censorial constraints.

How is pornographic media articulated via diverse cultural and aesthetic formations in South Asia? What is the status of pornographic ephemera and fragments such as cut-pieces and viral video and how may they require a rethinking of existing porn scholarship? What does the notion of the region have to offer to a comparative understanding of pornographic expression? These are key methodological questions, for while they focus on one particular region, they raise a larger general question—can we think of pornography in the plural? Can there be one standard of the obscene and the titillating that can apply across cultural, political and geographic formations? What can the idea of the “vernacular” add to our understanding of sexual imaginaries and their relationship to more direct and visible questions of identity, morality and permissibility?

This special issue invites papers exploring such questions across a range of media including, but not limited to films, Internet video, pornographic literature and pulp fiction. Probable topics include:

  • Law and censorship regimes in South Asia.
  • Regionally specific “genres” of pornography.
  • Vernacular pulp-fiction and the pornographic imagination.
  • Local industrial practices of porn production.
  • Exhibition and distribution practices.
  • Trans-regional flows of pornographic media.
  • “Local” porn forums on the Internet.
  • Pornography and/as sex-education.
  • Ethnographic studies of porn consumption practices.

Submission Details

Articles for peer-review should be between 5000-8000 words. Shorter thought pieces of approximately 1500-2000 words may also be submitted, and the editors will make a selection for the Forum section. All articles must include bibliographic information. For details about formatting and style please see

How to Submit

All the manuscripts must be submitted online. Please consult the Authors and Submissions tab in the journal website for more information, and the Submit Online link is there as well:–‐Gh.

Submission Deadlines

Please send abstracts of up to 350 words and a bio-note to or by February 1st, 2017. The deadline for full manuscripts is December 1st, 2017. The special issue will be published in 2019.

Editorial Information

Guest Editor: Darshana Sreedhar Mini (

Guest Editor: Anirban Kapil Baishya (


Information for Presenters



Your presentation should be NO LONGER THAN 20 MINUTES, but there will be time for questions at the end of your parallel session. Please respect this time limit, so other panel presenters can speak for their full 20 minutes.

You will be able view the main conference programme in the coming weeks which will include full details of the parallel sessions, and the date and time of your presentation.

Use of IT equipment

You are asked to go to the room to set up any IT equipment you require at least 10 MINUTES BEFORE the session begins, and to introduce yourself to the panel chair.

Each room is equipped with a PC (Windows) and loudspeakers for playing back audio.

The easiest and smoothest way of bringing your electronic presentation to the session is on a memory stick. Unfortunately it will NOT be possible to use your own laptop, tablet or Mac, as this often causes disruption to conference parallel sessions, due to incompatability issues. If this presents you with a problem, please contact us via the conference email address sexualcultures2admin[at]sunderland[dot]ac[dot]uk

Any audio should be embedded into the presentation – some very experienced presenters have been surprised to find that their audio files have not been copied across with their PowerPoint file.

There will be IT support available, but parallel sessions present particular challenges because there are three running at the same time.

PREZI presentations should work on all the computers, which have full internet access.

If you have large files to access for your presentation, we recommend using Dropbox. Store the files in your own Dropbox account before coming to the conference and then download them onto the computer provided BEFORE your panel begins.


Paper presenters are required to register for the conference in order to participate in it. The registration page of the conference will be online shortly.

(It is likely that presenters who have not registered and paid the appropriate conference fee by 15th March will be removed from the programme before it is printed.)


Accommodation in London

ibis-london-greenwichThe Ibis Hotel at London Greenwich, with the Cafe Rouge below, is a short walk from Cutty Sark station – just a few minutes by DLR from South Quay

Accommodation is not included in registration fees. Participants are expected to book their own accommodation.

London is a magnificent city, and you’ll find a wide range of hotels, restaurants and bars within easy travelling distance of the conference venue at South Quay in London Docklands to suit every budget.

We recommend booking early to keep the price low as London is a popular destination. Furthermore, other events scheduled at the Excel exhibition centre and the Royal Military Academy in Greenwich for the same week as our conference mean that the hotels nearest to South Quay are booking up fast.

Hotel price comparison sites, such as hotelscombined and trivago can help you find the best deals, and we suggest using at least one to find a hotel within your budget. They use powerful search engines to interrogate multiple hotel booking sites, such as, and so you can choose between them all. If you begin by searching for ‘London Docklands’ you will be offered hotels closest to the venue. Unfortunately, London Docklands has in recent years become an important financial centre, and many of the closest hotels are very expensive as a result.

The magnificent 19th century vessel Cutty Sark, now preserved in a modern visitors’ centre in Greenwich

An excellent alternative is the historic town of Greenwich, which is easily accessible on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) by using the Cutty Sark station, just four stops away, or Greenwich station, which is five stops away. (See the DLR map at the foot of this page.) Greenwich has a number of interesting historic sites, such as the Royal Naval College, the Indoor Market and the final resting place for the former sea-going tea clipper, the Cutty Sark. There are several good pubs and restaurants, all within walking distance, and it is a relatively safe area.

If you are prepared to book a hotel a bit farther away you will find an enormous range of prices and levels of comfort, many of them located near London’s top attractions – but please bear in mind the additional travelling to and from the conference venue, as well as the disadvantages of being relatively isolated from other conference delegates and friends.

As far as possible, we would like most delegates to be located near to each other, in order to maximise the opportunities for networking and socialising together, as well as establishing our own informal support network. For some of our delegates this will be their first time in London, and any big capital city can be daunting, especially if you are unused to travelling alone.

London is a relatively safe city, especially in the city centre, in Docklands and in Greenwich. However, like anywhere, it is important to keep a close eye on your valuables and avoid situations where you might easily be pickpocketed, such as overcrowded underground trains (the ‘Tube’).

As well as working hard during the conference proceedings, we intend to enjoy ourselves at Freedom and Censorship in in the Media!

Our suggestions

Ibis, London Greenwich (Our first choice for balancing comfort, price and convenience – for the venue, Cutty Sark DLR station and the historic centre of Greenwich)

Travelodge Greenwich – probably the most convenient of three budget hotels in the area which offer clean, simple and modern accommodation

Hotels currently offering reasonable rates for 3* or 4* comfort (£100-£130 per night) include the following:

Premier Inn, London Greenwich (close to Greenwich DLR station, just five stops to South Quay)
Mercure, London Greenwich (4* comfort right by the Deptford Bridge DLR station – just six stops to South Quay)
City Nites, London Canary Wharf (Serviced apartments very close to the venue)
Three good, smart budget hotels (£45 – £75 per night) are:

Travelodge London Greenwich (right by the Deptford Bridge DLR station – just six stops to South Quay)
Travelodge London Docklands (a short walk to East India DLR station – change at Poplar for South Quay)
Travelodge London City Airport (a short walk to London City Airport DLR station – change at Poplar for South Quay)

St Christopher’s Hostel, Greenwich is very convenient for the DLR – and cheap

If you are brave, and not too dependent on comfort and privacy, there are a number of hostels offering very cheap shared accommodation from £10-£35 per night. For example:

St Christopher’s Hostel, Greenwich (right by Greenwich DLR station, just five stops from South Quay)
Clink78 & Clink261 are two hostels in central London, which are of course farther away from the conference venue They are very near King’s Cross/St Pancras Underground station, so from there just take the Northern Line (black) southbound to Bank station and then change to the DLR. We estimate a journey time of 40 minutes from King’s Cross/St Pancras to South Quay.
You can click on the images below to be taken to the hotel comparison sites and search for the best deals at these and other hotels.

Snap_2013.04.24 21.53.13_001
Part of the DLR network map. From central London go to Bank Underground station and follow signs for the DLR. Trains to Lewisham call at South Quay, Cutty Sark and Greenwich. In the opposite direction choose westbound DLR trains to Bank station, to connect with the London Underground system for central London. Alternatively, change from/to the Jubilee Line (silver) at Canary Wharf or Canning Town.

Call for Papers



April 8-10 2015 University of Sunderland London Campus, South Quay, London, UK

This conference, co-hosted by the Centre for Research in Media and Cultural Studies, University of Sunderland, and the Onscenity Research Network will take place on April 8-10 2015 at the University of Sunderland London Campus, London, UK

Along with two keynote speakers addressing themes of intersectionality and sexual cultures, there will be keynote panels, bringing together key academics and activists on the topics of:

· Sex and disability

· Trans* and non-binary activism

· Sex worker and stripper activism

· Youth, race and sexuality

The overriding theme of the conference is the bringing together of academia with activism. Submissions are particularly welcomed from: academics who are also activists, activists who are also academics, academic/activists on the inside and outside of conventional academia, and academics and activists who are working together on projects relating to sexual cultures.

The key themes of the conference are:

Intersecting sex

Many of the most important and current debates around sexual identities, practices and cultures in recent years have cohered around intersectionality. Sex is an area in which we particularly see intersections playing out between various forms and systems of oppression discrimination. For example, key debates concern the possibilities for consensual sex and agency within multiple intersecting structures of oppression; the ways in which ‘sexualization’ operates – and is discussed – in gendered, classed, and raced ways; which bodies and identities are considered to have the potential to be sexual or not, and which are regarded as intrinsically hypersexual or pathologically sexual. Papers in this strand will explore intersectional elements of sexual identity, practice, experience and culture, the ways in which academics and/or activists are engaging and intervening in these areas (online and offline), and the key points of tension and conflict that are emerging around these issues.

Advising/educating sex

Sex advice and education is a key area of concern in relation to sexual cultures. Sex advice and sex education are arenas in which cultural conceptualisations of sex are reproduced and perpetuated, as well as being potential sites for the resisting of dominant cultural understandings and offering alternative possibilities. Sex advice and education occur across various media and diverse professional contexts, including – for example – self-help books, problem pages, websites, online forums, news reporting, TV documentaries, and pornography, as well as school sex ed, youth work, sexual health clinics, sex therapy, sex coaching and sex work. Papers in this strand will explore the kinds ways in which intimacies are being mediated through various forms of sex advice and education, as well as considering the ways in which activists and/or academics are engaging and intervening in these areas (online and offline, in policy and in practice) and the forms of sex advice and education that are emerging from these engagements and interventions.

Sex and technology

Technologies of all kinds have been central to the ways in which sex is understood and experienced in contemporary societies. We are interested in papers that explore evolving technologies in the presentation of sex through print, photography, film and video to todays online and mobile media; the ways that technologies are increasingly integrated into everyday sex lives; the expansion of sex technologies in toy, doll, machine and robot manufacture, the marketing of drugs such as Viagra and cosmetic technologies such as body modification and genital surgery for enhancing sex; the expansion of sex work and recreation online; sex 2.0 practices, regimes and environments such as porn tubes, sex chat rooms and worlds like Second Life; and the shifting relations between bodies and machines in the present and in predictions of futuresex.

Working sex

In recent years sex work has become a potent site for the discussion of labour, commerce and sexual ethics, attracting increased academic attention and public concern. Papers in this strand of the conference will seek to develop our understanding of commercial sex, focus on conceptualizing emerging types of sexual labour, and explore the place of sex work of all kinds in contemporary society. They will ask how an investigation of contemporary forms of sex work and sex as work may shed new light on the study of cultural production, industry, commerce, and notions of commodification and labour. We are also seeking papers which are interested in exploring the connections between work and leisure, work and pleasure, sex work as forms of body and affective labour, and the ethics and politics of sexual labour.

We invite proposals for the following:

Panels, roundtable discussions, and workshops of up to four presenters/facilitators (1 hour)

Papers/interactive events (20 minutes)

Short Ignite papers (5 minutes/20 slides)


We particularly welcome proposals for non-standard types of presentation which question the academic/activist distinction, such as fish bowl discussions, pecha kucha, creative methods workshops, and interactive workshops.

All presenters are requested to make their material accessible to an audience which will include academics, activists, practitioners and community members.

Deadline for the submission of proposals is October 31 2014.

For all individual papers please submit a 150 word abstract and 150 word biographical note. Please indicate which key theme of the conference your paper belongs to.

For panels, workshops and roundtable sessions please submit a 600-800 overview and set of abstracts with 150 word biographical notes. Please indicate which key theme of the conference you want your panel to be considered for.

All submissions should be addressed to sexualcultures2[at]sunderland[dot]ac[dot]uk

The Organisers

s200_feona.attwoodFeona Attwood is Professor in Cultural Studies, Communication & Media at Middlesex University, UK.

Feona’s research is in the area of sex in contemporary culture; and in particular, sexual cultures; new technologies, identity and the body; and controversial media. Recent publications have focused on online sexual cultures, aesthetics, sex and the media, and public engagement. Feona is currently writing a book, Sex Media and Technology to be published by Edinburgh University Press.  Professor Attwood is the co-editor of Sexualities journal and founding co-editor of the journal Porn Studies.

Meg Barker PhotographDr. Meg John Barker is a writer, academic, counsellor and activist specialising in sex and relationships.

Meg is a senior lecturer in psychology at the Open University and has published many academic books and papers on topics including non-monogamous relationships, sadomasochism, counselling, and mindfulness, as well as co-editing the journal Psychology & Sexuality. They were the lead author of The Bisexuality Report and are involved in running many public events on sexuality and relationships, including Critical Sexology. Meg is also a sex and relationship therapist, and their book and blog Rewriting the Rules addresses these matters on Twitter: megbarkerpsych.

Egan Photo 2R.Danielle Egan is Professor of Gender and Sexuality at St. Lawrence University, Canton, USA.

She is the author of Dancing for Dollars and Paying for Love: The Relationships Between Exotic Dancers and their Regular Customers (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006) and the co-authored book Theorizing the Sexual Child in Modernity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010). Danielle’s new book, Becoming Sexual: A Critical Appraisal of Girls and Sexualization (Polity 2013)  examines  the assumptions and implications at the heart of popular literature on the sexualization of children.

  1609865_10153866856795354_917152882_nClarissa Smith is Professor of Sexual Cultures in the Centre for Research in Media and Cultural Studies, part of the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media at Sunderland University.

Clarissa’s research interests relate to sex, sexual identities and sexual representations in contemporary culture; publications include One for the Girls! The Pleasures and Practices of Porn for Women (Intellect) and the co-authored Studying Sexualities: Theories, Representations, Cultures (Palgrave). A member of the editorial boards of Journal of Gender Studies, Sexualities and Participations, Clarissa is also the founding co-editor of Porn Studies. Website:; twitter: drclarissasmith.

The Venue

The conference will be held at the London Campus of the University of Sunderland, located at South Quay in the London Docklands district.

There are a wide range of hotels, restaurants and bars within easy travelling distance to suit every budget, and South Quay is just seven minutes from the historical and cultural site of the former seagoing vessel Cutty Sark, now located in Greenwich beside the Royal Observatory and the River Thames.

University of Sunderland London Campus, 197 Marsh Wall, Docklands, London, E14 9SG, UK.

Directions within London

There are a wide range of transport routes to London, and then to the campus. Once you are in London, the campus is located two minutes walk from the South Quay station on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), which is just 15 minutes from Bank station and the rest of the London Underground network. Nearby Canary Wharf station is also on the Jubilee Line, which offers a number of other connections to the rest of the London Underground. If arriving on the Jubilee Line at Canary Wharf, you will need to change there for a southbound DLR train to South Quay.


New Journal from Routledge


Call for Papers

The editors, Feona Attwood (Middlesex University) and Clarissa Smith (University of Sunderland), and Routledge are pleased to announce the launch of a new journal devoted to the study of pornography.

Porn Studies is the first dedicated, international, peer-reviewed journal to critically explore those cultural products and services designated as pornographic and their cultural, economic, historical, institutional, legal and social contexts. Porn Studies will publish innovative work examining specifically sexual and explicit media forms, their connections to wider media landscapes and their links to the broader spheres of (sex) work across historical periods and national contexts.

Porn Studies is an interdisciplinary journal informed by critical sexuality studies and work exploring the intersection of sexuality, gender, race, class, age and ability. It focuses on developing knowledge of pornographies past and present, in all their variations and around the world. Because pornography studies are still in their infancy we are also interested in discussions that focus on theoretical approaches, methodology and research ethics. Alongside articles, the journal includes a forum devoted to shorter observations, developments, debates or issues in porn studies, designed to encourage exchange and debate.

Porn Studies invites submissions for publication, commencing with its first issue in Spring 2014. Articles should be between 5000 and 8000 words. Forum submissions should be 500-1500 words. Book reviews should be between 800 and 1500 words. Submissions will be refereed anonymously by at least two referees.

In the first instance submissions, queries and suggestions should be sent to:

Journal webpage at Routledge: Porn Studies

Network for Young Scholars

XCircle_edu is both an international academic network and a space in which young researchers of pornography can share, support, and collaborate.

Aims of XCircle_edu:

  • support and encourage each other;
  • share valuable contacts;
  • share bibliographies and references;
  • suggest good working techniques and resources;
  • work together on papers, courses, and workshops;
  • organise conference panels together;
  • share lists of films, documentaries, videos, websites;
  • communicate often: via email, Skype, and a dedicated private forum;
  • proofread each others’ work;
  • offer different perspectives and suggest ideas;
  • discuss theories, methodologies, and ethics;
  • update a shared calendar of journal paper submission deadlines and upcoming conferences;
  • organise Skype conference calls;
  • and anything else we believe would be useful to advancing our knowledge.

Read more here: