Working papers

Working Papers:

The uses of harm and the illusion of order in regulation of sex markets

Capstone thesis submitted for Certificate in Advanced Feminist Studies (Spring 2019)

Available on request


Birla Swati and Basole Amit. Negotiating (with) English in Mumbai’s Informal Economy, Max Planck Institute Urban Aspirations Project

Abstract:  English occupies a peculiar and contradictory position in India. Two centuries after its introduction into the country, the fraction of the population who speaks the language remains small (~10%), but this small elite exercises a substantial influence in the public sphere. Englishspeaking ability is indicative of a deeper structural divide between a paschimikrit samaj (westernized society) and a bahishkrit samaj (ostracized society). The former, constituting a small minority, is the part of Indian society that has found place in the modern institutions (universities, formal economy jobs) while the later is a much larger majority that has not. In the post-reform period, even as access to a good English education remains highly unequal, exposure to English has increased tremendously in other ways, predominantly through its presence in the public sphere and through the new information and communication technologies. A consequence of this exposure of the bahishkrit samaj to English is a thorough Indianization of the language. It is this manifestation of English, beyond the native speakers of Indian English that the present study explores through field observations, surveys, and interviews among street traders, taxidrivers and other informal sector workers in Mumbai.   Continue reading