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Global History of Sexual Science, 1880-1960$
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Veronika Fuechtner, Douglas E. Haynes, and Ryan M. Jones

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520293373

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520293373.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 29 July 2021

Understanding R. D. Karve

Understanding R. D. Karve

Brahmacharya, Modernity, and the Appropriation of Global Sexual Science in Western India, 1927–1953

Chapter:
(p.163) Seven Understanding R. D. Karve
Source:
Global History of Sexual Science, 1880-1960
Author(s):

Shrikant Botre

Douglas E. Haynes

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520293373.003.0008

This chapter examines how global concepts of sexual science were appropriated in western India during the period 1927–1953 by focusing on the case of R. D. Karve, a sexual scientist and birth-control advocate who engaged in an intensely Indian politics of sexuality—that is, the ongoing debates over sexual practices and their relationship to modernity. Karve invoked sexual science to counter nationalist contentions and relied on the iconic European and American figures of sexology to undermine the logic of brahmacharya (sexual self-constraint), a practice believed to be essential to the regeneration of Indian masculinity and the nation. He also argued that the Kamasutra was superior to its ancient counterparts in Europe. The chapter suggests that Karve was highly selective in drawing ideas from European sexual science that served his iconoclastic critique of the place of religion in Indian society.

Keywords:   sexual science, India, R. D. Karve, sexuality, modernity, sexology, brahmacharya, Kamasutra, Europe, religion

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