GRIP is very happy to welcome Svati Shah as a visiting researcher!
Their current project is focused on the genealogy of queer movements in India and theories of urban and rural sexuality politics. They have a particular interest in developing a critique of sexuality and ‘caste capitalism’ in relation to growing inequality and the rise of Hindu nationalism. This project follows their book Street Corner Secrets: Sex, Work and Migration in the City of Mumbai (2014, Duke University Press) which is an ethnography of street-based solicitation by cisgender women, where women solicit contracts for both construction and sex work. The book discusses sex work as an aspect of labor migration mediated by the politics and production of caste, space, livelihood security and access to water. Dr Shah was the guest editor for a special issue on ‘Sedition, Sexuality, Gender, and Gender Identity in South Asia’ for the South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal (SAMAJ) in 2019, as well as guest editing a special issue of the Anti-Trafficking Review on ‘Migration, Sexuality and Gender Identity’ in 2022. They have published in several international journals and volumes.
Dr Shah’s new book project is tentatively titled Dissent in Queer Times. It explores the contradictions between a public discourse of queer liberation following the decriminalization of homosexuality in India in 2018 and the rise of Hindu nationalist populism and economic inequality. The book offers a genealogical perspective on social movements while engaging with the history of ethnographic methods and anthropology in South Asia.
During their stay with GRIP in Bergen, Dr Shah was also affiliated with SKOK as a Visiting Research Scholar.
Dr Shah participated in the Department of Anthropology’s Seminar Series at UiB, the Why (Queer) History Matters conference, Bergen Exchanges 2022 as well as the Breakfast seminar: “Queer Politics & Democratic Rights in India: 1975 – Present”. You can find and listen to dr Shah’s keynote from Bergen Exchanges here: “Postcolonial Queer and Trans Theory: The Country, the City, and Rural Imaginaries“.
Dr Shah has held positions or fellowships at New York University (New York), Wellesley College (Wellesley), Duke University (Durham), and Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi). Their work has been supported by the American Institute of Indian Studies, the Fulbright-Nehru Foundation, and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.