Dr. Debolina Dutta

Assistant Professor

B.A. (University of Calcutta);
LL.B. (Bharti Vidyapeeth University, Pune);
M.Phil. (Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata);
Ph.D. (University of Melbourne)

Dr. Debolina Dutta completed a PhD from Melbourne Law School. Debolina’s research is located at the intersections of jurisprudence, postcolonial theory, law and the humanities, sexuality studies, socio-legal studies, and feminist ethics. Her doctoral thesis develops the everyday practice of adda as a scholarly, empirical method to write a historical account of feminist jurisprudence that is co-produced by sex worker activists and legal academics in post-colonial India. The fieldwork for her thesis was funded by multiple competitive research grants, including the Emerging Scholars International Research Fellowship from the International Association for the Study of Sexuality, Culture and Society (IASSCS). One of the chapters from her thesis titled “Of Sex Workers, Festivals and Rights: A Story of an Affirmative Sabotage” was awarded the Audrey Rapoport Prize for Scholarship on Gender and Human Rights in 2017. She is currently working on turning her PhD thesis into a book.


As a feminist lawyer, researcher and activist Debolina has had a long-standing relationship with the sex workers’ movement in India. She has worked as a sexual rights advocate both nationally and internationally, including at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Prior to starting her doctoral work she was advocacy and research officer at CREA, New Delhi. Her writings have appeared in the Australian Feminist Law Journal, Childhood, Feminist Studies, Routledge Handbook on the Politics of Global Health, Palgrave Handbook of Gender and Development, among others. Her co-directed documentary film We Are Foot Soldiers, on the collectivization of children of sex workers in Sonagachi, Kolkata, received the 3rd prize at Jeevika: Asia Livelihood Documentary Competition in 2012.


Her current projects include: co-editing a special issue of the journal Global Public Health; completing a collaborative, illustrated book project titled The Rule of Laughter, which portrays how sex workers use fun and laughter in the everyday business of sex to challenge the criminalization of their lives and livelihood in India; and co-convening an Indo-German scholar’s workshop on Feminist Pedagogies. Alongside her academic research, Debolina is always passionately looking forward to a bone-chilling, nerve-wracking, mind-boggling crime thriller for relaxation.


Debolina’s published works are available here: https://unimelb.academia.edu/DebolinaDutta