Disappearing spaces and betraying allies: urban transition and street-based sex work in Bangalore

Publication Type:

Journal Articles


Globalizations (2021)




countergeography of sex-work, Neoliberal urban transition, Street-based sex work, urban imaginary


Neoliberal urban transition in Bangalore city over the last two decades has unleashed forces of gentrification and revanchism. Consequently, street-based sex workers, as an informal workforce, have been systematically losing their tracts of life and livelihood and being denied their narrative of urban transition experience. An entire ecology around street-based sex work has disintegrated, pushing many workers into further invisibility, gradually melting away their grasp on their city. Relying on their oral histories and textured narratives, this paper draws the sexual counter-geographies and socio-spatial contours of Bangalore's ‘sex-scape,’ bringing out the ordeals of its overwhelming transition. In this process, we bring out the dismal intersections that undergrid their life and work, and threats to their very existence in the process of envisioning and unravelling the realization of a city. We reinforce sex work as a theme in Indian urban studies, and the urban in Indian sex work scholarship.