ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Dance and Activist Labour in the Work of Komal Gandhar, Kolkata

Corpo-activism

This paper considers the dance and activist labour of a group of cis- and transgendered performers who lobby for the decrimininalisation of sex work in India. Known as Komal Gandhar, the group operate out of Sonagachi, Kolkata and are the cultural wing of the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, a collective of over 65,000 sex workers. Based on in-depth interviews with Komal Gandhar members and an analysis of their choreographic work, this paper proposes “corpo-activism”—the activation of human rights through embodied aesthetic labour—as a crucial phenomenon that mobilises the agency of minoritised groups.

The song “Let’s Talk About Sex” exploded into the global music scene in 1991. Written and performed by Salt-N-Pepa, a hip-hop trio of African-American women, the song’s catchy tune and refrain was everything that a Bengali teenager like myself, growing up in a predominantly middle-class suburb of Kolkata and governed by its strict codes of bhadralok (or gentlefolk) “respectability,” was not supposed to sing:

Let’s talk about sex, baby

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Updated On : 31st May, 2022
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