"Force is a Form of Trafficking’: The Shifting Sands of Transnational Sympathy and the Epistemology of Commercial Sex"
With the rapid rise in transnational funding for anti-trafficking initiatives, South Indian organizations that were once sites of sex worker empowerment efforts (in the name of HIV prevention) have begun to morph into sex worker rescue projects. This talk explores this ongoing shift at a highly visible sex workers’ community-based organization (CBO) in Hyderabad, India that recently expanded into a non-governmental organization (NGO) specializing in prevention and rehabilitation. Based on fieldwork conducted at this organization in 2009 and in 2012-2013, I suggest that the anti-trafficking movement operates similarly to an industry manufacturing salable goods. The transnational charitable market for stories of the rescue of trafficked women creates demand for narratives of victimization and hence pressure for their production. Anti-trafficking organizations, consequently, cultivate these narratives among sex workers who did not previously produce them. Northern desires to consume rescue narratives effect a new form of force in the lives of sex workers in the global south with broad implications for the production of knowledge about commercial sex.
‘Rescue’ from the sex industry in Hyderabad, India often resembles something like a forcible trade in humans for monetary gain—a sort of humanitarian version of trafficking. This work is carried out by humanitarian brokers who must creatively mediate the frictions between, on the one hand, the stories donors are willing to hear about the sex industry and, on the other, the very different stories that Telugu women who sell sex tend to tell about themselves.
Sunil Janah (1918-2012) was one of the most celebrated documentary photographers in mid-twentieth century India.Iconic images of the catastrophic and of the everyday emerged from Janah’s “social documentation” of the 1940s and his photographs of Indian industries from the 1950s. This paper will juxtapose these two different genres of images to analyze visualizations of historical moments during India’s passage from the colonial to the post colonial.
Scholars have for decades sought to explain the absence of the Rāmāyana narrative in Pali historiography, as well as its paucity in the Buddhist textual tradition of Sri Lanka relative to elsewhere in Southern Asia. This paper considers the literary resurgence of the Rāmāyana in 15th century Sri Lanka, with special attention given to depictions of Rāvaṇa’s kingdom. I argue that these developments represent a concession on the part of Buddhist historiographers to Sri Lanka’s religious and political diversity at the time.
This paper focuses on adolescent boys (usually around 12 or 13 years old) in northern Thailand who ordain as Buddhist novice monks for several years in order to finish their secondary education at a Buddhist temple. Based on 20 months of ethnographic field research in a village in Chiang Mai province, I trace how new novice monks learn to not overdue monastic strictness by learning to manage the emotions of others and adjusting their behavior to “time and place” (kalatessa). I argue that this emotional management is not only an important aspect of ideal moral personhood in northern Thailand, it is also a way in which monks and novices construct regional identity and a unique northern Thai Buddhism.