Laws and Marginalised Bodies: Sex Trafficking, Child Labour and Circus as a Site of Negotiations
The essay is a collaborative piece which examines performance and body discourses of circus performers in light of two laws (child labour law and law banning animals). It will examine the laws and their implementation, its effect on the entertainment and cultural industries, the new relationship between cultural policy (an important rubric in post-independent India) and the neo-liberal atmosphere where culture is being increasingly commercialized and corporatized. We survey conversations between some of the key protagonists and players in the field: the agents who in light of the new opportunities specialize in placing Russian, East European, Central Asian and Chinese performers in circus and across the entertainment industry; the circus managers and owners; social activist and Nobel prize laureate Kailash Satyarthi who works on implementing child labour laws and preventing child trafficking; Positioning the circus at the centre of this controversy, the objective is to study the performances and performative bodies with a gendered critical perspective. The essay focuses on reading the contradictory body signs of circus (women) performers, both in historical and contemporary contexts in light of the laws, neo-liberal changes, possibilities to recruit global performers and the realities of child labour practice, issues of rights and discrimination within larger citizen debates pertaining to India.
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