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Seminars and Colloquia

Humanities and Social Sciences

Inter-Generational Sex Work Within A Denotified Nomadic Tribe: The Nats of Forbesganj, Bihar 
Wed, May 17, 2017,   11:00 AM at Seminar Room 24, Main Building

Dr Subir Rana
National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS),Bangalore

The street entertainers of India have a rich and illustrious past but unfortunately historical literature and narrative history on these communities are few and far between. This study tries to engage with the past and present of the Nat community, an erstwhile so called ‘Criminal Tribe’ who was a ‘mobile cluster’ of street entertainers, cattle herders, bards and tattooists. The Nats were declared as a Denotified nomadic tribe or Vimukta jaatis, after independence and are today found in nineteen different states of India. My study was focused on the Nat community located in Forbesganj, Bihar. Most of the male members of the Nat community are unemployed due to rampant illiteracy and acute poverty and subsist on human trafficking and pimping for their own female members of the family. Today, this community is facing mass unemployment, exploitation, stigma of criminality and administrative neglect from the police and administration at large, besides a range of structural and symbolic violence.

This research analyzes the colonial ploy of labeling the mobile community and tribal folk of India as ‘criminals’ and examines the causes of inter-generational prostitution among the Nats in Forbesganj. It traces the historicity of this community of acrobats, jugglers, street entertainers or ‘tamasha walas’ and stuntmen or ‘bazigars’ as they are called and tries to investigate their place and location in history. In the current context, I would like to explore the relationship between poverty, landlessness, illiteracy and prostitution and try to analyse the notion of Sanskritization and purity and pollution if there exists any. In the contemporary times, the research also dwells on the nature of structural and symbolic violence and the effects of globalization and neo-liberal policies on the community especially women.

Biography of the Speaker:
Subir Rana has recently completed a one year tenure as a Post Doctoral Associate at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) Bangalore where he was associated with the Skills, Livelihoods and Mobilities Programme. Rana is a sociologist by training and has a Doctorate in Sociology from the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) New Delhi. His thesis deals with a Denotified Nomadic Tribe (DNT) called Nats which is into inter-generational sex work in Bihar and engages with the past and present of the Nat community. Subir has been a recipient of prestigious national and international fellowships, scholarships, travel grants and honorary positions. Apart from his current position as a Tata Trust Fellow, 2017-18, he has been a Sir Charles Wallace Fellow, Queen’s University, Belfast, 2011-12, Ford Foundation Visiting Fellow, Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, JNU, 2011-12, Sir Ratan Tata Trust Library Visiting Fellow, SWS, Jadavpur University, 2009-10 and UGC Fellowship 2007-2011. He has presented his research papers at national and international fora and has many important publications to his credit.