Unveiling Desire: Fallen Women in Literature, Culture, and Films of the East.

Co-edited with Colette Morrow. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 304 pages.  January 2018. Foreword by Nawal el Saadawi.

In Unveiling Desire, Devaleena Das and Colette Morrow show that the duality of the fallen/saved woman is as prevalent in Eastern culture as it is in the West, specifically in literature and films. Using examples from the Middle to Far East, including Iran, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Thailand, Japan, and China, this anthology challenges the fascination with Eastern women as passive, abject, or sexually exotic, but also resists the temptation to then focus on the veil, geisha, sati, or Muslim women’s oppression without exploring Eastern women’s sexuality beyond these contexts. The chapters cover instead mind/body sexual politics, patriarchal cultural constructs, the anatomy of sex and power in relation to myth and culture, denigration of female anatomy, and gender performativity. From Persepolis to Bollywood, and from fairy tales to crime fiction, the contributors to Unveiling Desire show how the struggle for women’s liberation is truly global.

Editorial Reviews

Unveiling Desire’s greatest contribution is its exploration of the nexus of Eastern and Western feminisms. Readers will discover how the trope of the fallen woman appears in a fascinating array of texts, engaging themes of female agency, colonialism, nationalism, and patriarchal traditions.”  (Amy Levin author of Global Mobilities: Refugees, Exiles, and Immigrants in Museums and Archives)

Unveiling Desire is an excellent book-length study of non-western women’s sexuality and sexual desires which provides a much-needed corrective to western feminist Orientalisms and their attendant chauvinisms. Breathtaking in its scope—from the nineteenth century Bengali widow in South Asia to sex workers in Tokugawa era Japan—this collection of essays is a must read for anyone interested in gender, sexuality and feminism.” (Krupa Shandilya author of Intimate Relationships: Social Reform and the Late Nineteenth-Century South Asian Novel)


There are many stories which are not on paper. They're written in the bodies and minds of women.