Urban Undesirables: City Transition and Street-Based Sex Work in Bangalore, a book by Anant Kamath co-authored by Neeti P., presents urban transition experiences over nearly three decades in Bangalore city based on the narratives of the city’s street-based sex workers. Sex workers – female, male, and transgender – have been omnipresent in Bangalore’s streets for decades. However, despite being blacklisted as ‘undesirable’ and hazards to the ‘ideal public’, they have their own unique imaginaries and narratives of the city and its mutations. In mapping out their spatial and social ecosystems and experiences with technology, this book redraws, rewrites, and relooks at Bangalore and its transformations from their perspectives.
The writers and researchers take an unconventional journey through their spaces, comrades, and battles to announce and affirm their individuality and agency. This is done through their empowerment strategies and their struggle to reclaim spaces, asserting their identities as informal workers and legitimate citizens of the city. The book offers an analysis of their experiences which is anchored around concepts such as neoliberal urbanism, gender, labour informality, and the politics of technology.
In this session the authors Anant Kamath and Neeti P. will present the main features and the outline of the book. This will be followed by a discussion between the authors and Prof Sarasu Esther Thomas and Prof Supriya Roy Chowdhury, moderated by Rajesh Srinivas. There will be a Q&A session with the panel following the discussion.
Neethi P. is associated with at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS), Bangalore. She works on urban labour informality and focuses on women informal workers and various forms and responses from upcoming alternative labour associations. She has published in the areas of garments, electronics, ports, home-based work, street vending, sanitation, mill work, and sex work. She is the author of Globalization Lived Locally: A Labour Geography Perspective (2016), brought out under Oxford University Press, and several research articles. She has completed her PhD and MPhil at the Centre for Development Studies, under Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU, 2014). She was also a Fulbright Nehru Doctoral Fellow at the University of Georgia in 2011-12.
Anant Kamath is associated with the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore. He works on the sociology of technology in India, with special interest in the subaltern. Concerns on inequality, urban transition, social mobility, spatiality, gender, and caste, undergird his enquiries on technological experiences and outcomes. He is the author of The Social Context of Technological Experiences (2020) and Industrial Innovation, Networks, and Economic Development (2015), besides several research articles. He completed his PhD at the United Nations University / MERIT (The Netherlands, 2013), and has studied at the Centre for Development Studies (CDS, Trivandrum), Madras School of Economics (MSE, Chennai), and St Joseph’s College, Bangalore.
Sarasu Esther Thomas
Professor Sarasu Esther Thomas is an alumnus of the National Law School Bangalore and its former Registrar. Over a span of 25 years, she has taught at the Law School, built up the Human Rights Lawyering Project and the Centre for Women and the Law. Her areas of teaching and research are Human Rights, Gender and Family Law. She has been awarded several Fellowships including Linneaus Palme, British Council and the WISCCOMP Fellowships.
Supriya RoyChowdhury was educated at Presidency College, Kolkata, and Princeton University. She is currently based at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, where she is Visiting Professor in the Urban and Mobility Studies Program. She is also a Senior Fellow at the Max Weber Stiftung Foundation, New Delhi. Earlier she taught at the ISEC, Bangalore, IIM Ahmedabad, and worked as Deputy Editor, The Hindu. She has published extensively on labour in the formal and informal sectors, global supply chains, changing forms of labour activism in the era of globalization, theorizing class, urban poverty, slums, and migration. Currently she is working on climate migration in the Sundarbans in West Bengal.
Rajesh Srinivas is the Executive Director of Sangama. He has been leading Sangama and has been associated with it for decades in its work on sexual minorities, sex workers, and people living with HIV, in the context of their human rights. Sangama aims to help live their lives with self acceptance, self respect and dignity, especially emphasising the concerns of these minorities from poor and/or non-English speaking backgrounds and sexuality minority sex workers, who otherwise have little to no access to information and resources.