This article examines the early twentieth-century Indian prison as a colonial sexological laboratory, arguing that it grounded a spatial form of sexual science tied to the science of confinement. Uncovering a crucial and previously unstudied Indian prison scandal, it shows how the would-be prison sexologist John Mulvany's experiments on subaltern Indian sexual “deviants” developed alongside and helped reconstitute the architecture of the prisons he administered, from Calcutta's Presidency Jail to Alipore's New Central Jail. It also demonstrates how he mobilized racist criminological theories about Indian prisoners’ desire for sociability over privacy to isolate sex offenders in graded patterns of cellular confinement and to prevent prison sex. It further explores how Mulvany's interception of the intimate letters of such sequestered prisoners led him to conceptualize pederasty as a mass site of habitual Indian racial excess. Finally, it documents how the state prevented the circulation of Mulvany's studies, anticipating outcry about having exposed Indian political or revolutionary prisoners to sexual abuse. While scholars have predominantly studied the circulation of sexology among imperial bourgeois publics through the Foucauldian framework of a sexological will to knowledge, this essay theorizes how the colonial state's dominance over penology amplifies our understanding of subaltern sexual life and of sexological epistemologies subtended by a will to ignorance.

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