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The City and the Sex Worker: Reading Caste and Gender in Life Writings

Carmel Christy Kattithara Joseph, The City and the Sex Worker: Reading Caste and Gender in Life Writings, FMSH-WP-2021-148, février 2021.

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This paper explores the concept of city space as it plays out in the narrative of a sex worker. The paper conceives the idea of “city” as shaped through people’s experiences which points at how it is a lived space rather than being inert or fixed. Lived experience provide depth to the city which reproduce it as a dynamic space where relationships are negotiated, hierarchies are maintained. The life narratives analyzed in this paper is that of Nalini Jameela, a sex worker from Kerala, the southernmost state of India.

The author

Carmel Christy K. J. is assistant professor of Journalism at Kamala Nehru College, University of Delhi and Affiliated Fellow at the International Institute for Asian Studies, Leiden. Carmel holds a PhD from University of Hyderabad and has also been a Fulbright-Nehru Post-doctoral fellow at the Department of History, University of California, Santa Cruz. Her first monograph titled ‘Sexuality and Public Space in India: Reading the Visible’ was published by Routledge in 2017. She has been working on the interrelationship between caste and gender in the public space, and more recently, on urban space-making and religion.

The text

Carmel Christy K J was Postdoctoral Fellow at CEM-FMSH (October 2019 – November 2019).

Résumé

Cet article explore le concept d’espace urbain tel qu’il se joue dans le récit d’une travailleuse du sexe. Le document conçoit l’idée de « ville » comme façonnée à travers les expériences des gens, qui montre en quoi il s’agit d’un espace vécu plutôt que d’être inerte ou fixe. L’expérience vécue donne de la profondeur à la ville qui la reproduit comme un espace dynamique où les relations se négocient, les hiérarchies sont maintenues. Les récits de vie analysés dans cet article sont ceux de Nalini Jameela, une travailleuse du sexe du Kerala, l’État le plus au sud de l’Inde.

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