• Cloth: $94.95 - In Stock
    978-0-8223-5689-9
  • Paperback: $25.95 - In Stock
    978-0-8223-5698-1
  • Quantity
  • Add To Bag
  • Preface ix

    Acknowledgments xiii

    Introduction 1

    1. Day Wage Labor and Migration: Making Ends Meet 41

    2. Sex, Work, and Silence from the Construction of Workers' Naka 77

    3. Sex Work and the Street 113

    4. Red-Light Districts, Rescue, and Real Estate 147

    Conclusion. Agency, Livelihoods, and Spaces 189

    Notes 207

    Bibliography 231

    Index 247
  • “This book is a great extension to the body of knowledge on sexual commerce, particularly for its focus on migration, housing, and informal economics, which differs from the abolitionist perspective of power within the boundaries of gender.”

    "Street Corner Secrets is a nuanced ethnographic exploration of lives of poor migrant women who are part of the urban informal economy in the Indian metropolis of Mumbai…. [T]his book is a significant contribution to making sense of the place of sex work in the lives of poor migrant women in urban India."

    "Based on critical ethnography, archival research, and discourse analysis, Svati Shah makes an important intervention in the ongoing feminist debates on sex work... Shah provides in this book... a much needed focus on the political economy of sexual commerce."

    "Overall, this book’s ethnography makes a vibrant contribution to urban anthropology. Crafting an understanding of sexual labour that reflects the intricacies of rural-urban migration, the book sheds light on the management of knowledge around sex work, from secrecy to the rehabilitation of 'rescued' prostitutes, and shows how spaces occupied by women sex workers have multiple uses and meanings in Mumbai’s contested urban landscape." 

    "Svati P. Shah’s new book Street Corner Secrets makes an important contribution to ongoing debates around sex work in India.... Multi-sited urban ethnography alongside meticulous participant observation, provides a fascinating insight into Shah’s participants."

    "[T]he author's rich ethnography serves as strong evidence of what is at stake should the narrow epistemology of prostitution be unchallenged."

    "Street Corner Secrets offers a window into the narrow field of livelihood options that poor, migrant women navigate in urban India and, importantly, provides a much-needed model for ending the analytic exceptionalism of sex work."

    "[Shah's] argument, that silence can prevent us from asking more questions about a disenfranchised people, is what makes her book worth reading."

    "Shah considers what kind of knowledge research into sexual commerce can produce, and offers a nuanced epistemology of sex work that attends to the axes of visibility/invisibility and speech/silence."

    "Within activist circles, global feminist discourse, and academic conversations surrounding gender and agency, sex work has often been framed as an exceptional space of disempowerment, trafficking, and exploitation. Svati P. Shah’s beautifully engaged ethnography, Street Corner Secrets, challenges this narrative by attending to the material landscape of rural labor migration to Mumbai....This text will appeal to scholars in anthropology, sociology, gender and sexuality studies, labor studies, urban studies, human rights, and South Asia studies, as well as upper-division undergraduate and graduate courses invested in similar disciplines."

    Reviews

  • “This book is a great extension to the body of knowledge on sexual commerce, particularly for its focus on migration, housing, and informal economics, which differs from the abolitionist perspective of power within the boundaries of gender.”

    "Street Corner Secrets is a nuanced ethnographic exploration of lives of poor migrant women who are part of the urban informal economy in the Indian metropolis of Mumbai…. [T]his book is a significant contribution to making sense of the place of sex work in the lives of poor migrant women in urban India."

    "Based on critical ethnography, archival research, and discourse analysis, Svati Shah makes an important intervention in the ongoing feminist debates on sex work... Shah provides in this book... a much needed focus on the political economy of sexual commerce."

    "Overall, this book’s ethnography makes a vibrant contribution to urban anthropology. Crafting an understanding of sexual labour that reflects the intricacies of rural-urban migration, the book sheds light on the management of knowledge around sex work, from secrecy to the rehabilitation of 'rescued' prostitutes, and shows how spaces occupied by women sex workers have multiple uses and meanings in Mumbai’s contested urban landscape." 

    "Svati P. Shah’s new book Street Corner Secrets makes an important contribution to ongoing debates around sex work in India.... Multi-sited urban ethnography alongside meticulous participant observation, provides a fascinating insight into Shah’s participants."

    "[T]he author's rich ethnography serves as strong evidence of what is at stake should the narrow epistemology of prostitution be unchallenged."

    "Street Corner Secrets offers a window into the narrow field of livelihood options that poor, migrant women navigate in urban India and, importantly, provides a much-needed model for ending the analytic exceptionalism of sex work."

    "[Shah's] argument, that silence can prevent us from asking more questions about a disenfranchised people, is what makes her book worth reading."

    "Shah considers what kind of knowledge research into sexual commerce can produce, and offers a nuanced epistemology of sex work that attends to the axes of visibility/invisibility and speech/silence."

    "Within activist circles, global feminist discourse, and academic conversations surrounding gender and agency, sex work has often been framed as an exceptional space of disempowerment, trafficking, and exploitation. Svati P. Shah’s beautifully engaged ethnography, Street Corner Secrets, challenges this narrative by attending to the material landscape of rural labor migration to Mumbai....This text will appeal to scholars in anthropology, sociology, gender and sexuality studies, labor studies, urban studies, human rights, and South Asia studies, as well as upper-division undergraduate and graduate courses invested in similar disciplines."

  • "I learned a tremendous amount from Street Corner Secrets. Svati P. Shah thoughtfully and passionately lays out the struggles poor women face every day and their creative attempts to survive and move forward. Her concern about and respect for the women she meets shines through on every page. This is the best of engaged anthropology. It will become a classic on gendered labor, sexual labor, and the precarity of informal work."
    — Denise Brennan, author of Life Interrupted: Trafficking into Forced Labor in the United States

    "In this powerful ethnography, Svati P. Shah attends to the practices of everyday life, the political economy of space, and more generally to a methodology that does not just give lip service to ending the analytic isolation of sex work but instead models an extraordinary form of critical and reflexive ethnography. This is a critical contribution to scholarship on labor and contemporary political and market transformation."
    — Lawrence Cohen, author of No Aging in India: Alzheimer's, the Bad Family, and Other Modern Things

  • Permission to Photocopy (coursepacks)

    If you are requesting permission to photocopy material for classroom use, please contact the Copyright Clearance Center at copyright.com;

    If the Copyright Clearance Center cannot grant permission, you may request permission from our Copyrights & Permissions Manager (use Contact Information listed below).

    Permission to Reprint

    If you are requesting permission to reprint DUP material (journal or book selection) in another book or in any other format, contact our Copyrights & Permissions Manager (use Contact Information listed below).

    Images/Art

    Many images/art used in material copyrighted by Duke University Press are controlled, not by the Press, but by the owner of the image. Please check the credit line adjacent to the illustration, as well as the front and back matter of the book for a list of credits. You must obtain permission directly from the owner of the image. Occasionally, Duke University Press controls the rights to maps or other drawings. Please direct permission requests for these images to permissions@dukeupress.edu.
    For book covers to accompany reviews, please contact the publicity department.

    Subsidiary Rights/Foreign Translations

    If you're interested in a Duke University Press book for subsidiary rights/translations, please contact permissions@dukeupress.edu. Include the book title/author, rights sought, and estimated print run.

    Disability Requests

    Instructions for requesting an electronic text on behalf of a student with disabilities are available here.

    Rights & Permissions Contact Information

    Email: permissions@dukeupress.edu
    Email contact for coursepacks: asstpermissions@dukeupress.edu
    Fax: 919-688-4574
    Mail:
    Duke University Press
    Rights and Permissions
    905 W. Main Street
    Suite 18B
    Durham, NC 27701

    For all requests please include:
    1. Author's name. If book has an editor that is different from the article author, include editor's name also.
    2. Title of the journal article or book chapter and title of journal or title of book
    3. Page numbers (if excerpting, provide specifics)
    For coursepacks, please also note: The number of copies requested, the school and professor requesting
    For reprints and subsidiary rights, please also note: Your volume title, publication date, publisher, print run, page count, rights sought
  • Description

    Street Corner Secrets challenges widespread notions of sex work in India by examining solicitation in three spaces within the city of Mumbai that are seldom placed within the same analytic frame—brothels, streets, and public day-wage labor markets (nakas), where sexual commerce may be solicited discretely alongside other income-generating activities. Focusing on women who migrated to Mumbai from rural, economically underdeveloped areas within India, Svati P. Shah argues that selling sexual services is one of a number of ways women working as laborers may earn a living, demonstrating that sex work, like day labor, is a part of India's vast informal economy. Here, various means of earning—legitimized or stigmatized, legal or illegal—overlap or exist in close proximity to one another, shaping a narrow field of livelihood options that women navigate daily. In the course of this rich ethnography, Shah discusses policing practices, migrants' access to housing and water, the idea of public space, critiques of states and citizenship, and the discursive location of violence within debates on sexual commerce. Throughout, the book analyzes the epistemology of prostitution, and the silences and secrets that constitute the discourse of sexual commerce on Mumbai's streets.

    About The Author(s)

    Svati P. Shah is Assistant Professor in the Department of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Explore More
Share

Create a reading list or add to an existing list. Sign-in or register now to continue.


Contact Us

  • Duke University Press
  • 905 W. Main St. Ste 18-B
  • Durham, NC 27701
  • U.S. phone (toll-free): 888-651-0122
  • International: 1-919-688-5134
  • orders@dukeupress.edu