Darshana Mini

Position title: Assistant Professor, Communication Arts

I received my Ph.D. from the Cinema and Media Studies Department, University of Southern California in 2020. My dissertation “Transnational Journeys of Malayalam Soft-Porn: Obscenity, Censorship and Mediations of Desire” examines the genre of soft-porn in India and how it impacts public discourse on sexuality, obscenity, sex-work and sex-education. In particular, I track the emergence of the genre in the South India-based Malayalam film industry from the 1970s-2000s, by focusing on the formation of “media publics”—relationships, formations and exchanges in the public sphere, facilitated by the affective power of media. Combining archival, ethnographic and textual analysis, I locate how imaginations of sexuality and politics influence informal film practices and transnational media flows.

My dissertation research was funded by Social Science Research Council (SSRC), American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS) and Asia Research Institute, NUS. Excerpts from the dissertation also received a Student Writing Prize awarded by the Society of Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) and the Claudia Gorbman Award from the Sound and Music Studies Special Interest Group at SCMS. I am also actively involved in the National Women’s Studies Association and have been part of their Women of Color Leadership Project.

My research interests broadly include Global Media Cultures, Transnational Cinemas and Migration, South Asian Cinema, and Feminist Media. My work has been published in Feminist Media HistoriesBioscope: South Asian Screen StudiesSouth Asian Popular CultureJournal for Ritual Studies, Porn Studies and International Journal for Digital Television. Most recently, I have co-edited a special issue for Porn Studies titled “South Asian Pornographies: Vernacular Formations of the Permissible and the Obscene” which was published in 2020.