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2022 | OriginalPaper | Chapter

7. Gendering Precarity in Postcolonial Sites: Health Securitization and Sexual Labor in India’s Commercial Sex Trade Industry

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Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront the vulnerability of the most marginalized populations, thus exposing the faultlines in neoliberal governance. Be it immigrants in the US, domestic migrant workers in India or violence against black bodies in western democracies, the pandemic has now enthused academics to think about the role of precarity and the resultant differential distribution of resources across the world. Amidst this, sex workers have been hard hit. On April 8, 2020 UNAIDS released a press statement asserting that as already criminalized, marginalized and living in financial precarity, ‘sex workers must not be left behind in the response to COVID-19’ (UNAIDS, Sex workers must not be left behind in the response to COVID-19, 2020). Yet, sex work precarity is by no means recent phenomenon. Sex work has been, for a long time, theorized as precarious labor and sex workers as precarious bodies. Sexual labor posits the body at the center stage of neoliberal biopolitics, whereby commodification, consumption and controlling of precarious bodies go hand-in-hand with and become integral for preserving the gendered/racialized neoliberal body politic. Thus, sexually precarious bodies become the site for several legal and pathological securitization initiatives.
Footnotes
1
Viewing sex work as an exception to juridical law as well as transgressions against ‘natural’ social/moral codes, frequently termed as social pathology.
 
2
SEM here indicates relatively secure, full-time wage labor organized around an employer’s premises, and which yields extensive statutory benefits and entitlements for workers (Fudge 1997; Rodgers 1989; Vosko 1997).
 
3
Securitization theory views how global issues (like migration and climate change) are socially constructed as a security threats through powerful discourses.
 
4
See Agamben (1998).
 
5
Conducted as part of my dissertation research on Sex work governance in India: agency, subjectivity and resistance in bare life.
 
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Metadata
Title
Gendering Precarity in Postcolonial Sites: Health Securitization and Sexual Labor in India’s Commercial Sex Trade Industry
Author
Sudeshna Chatterjee
Copyright Year
2022
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-93228-2_7

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