Barefoot with a ‘band of criminals’: Law and the social life of objects in a street magician’s bag

Bhagabati, Dikshit Sarma and Chidambaram, Malini (2021) Barefoot with a ‘band of criminals’: Law and the social life of objects in a street magician’s bag. Alternative Law Journal, 46 (1). pp. 75-81. ISSN 1037969X

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Objects have social lives like humans and are invested with the properties of social relations. We restore performativity to the journeying objects of the Maseit street magicians by drawing on our ethnography with this wayfaring community from Kathputli Colony, Delhi. The shifting social incarnations of the magicians’ objects threaten law’s desire for semantic closure. Their truncated movements indicate how law traps the fluid history of street magic in a rigid definitional register by criminalising it as begging. By mapping these journeys, we illuminate the ways in which the Maseit make sense of their lives within the legal framework.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Bombay Beggary Act | Beggary law | Ethnography | Kathputli colony | Social life of things | Street magic
Subjects: Social Sciences and humanities > Arts and Humanities > Visual Arts and Performing Arts
Social Sciences and humanities > Social Sciences > Human Factors and Ergonomics
Social Sciences and humanities > Social Sciences > Law and Legal Studies
JGU School/Centre: Jindal Global Law School
Depositing User: Mr. Syed Anas
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2021 04:18
Last Modified: 04 Jan 2022 18:19
Official URL:
Additional Information: We would like to thank Devangna Singh and Ishan Vijay for helping us with the fieldwork and Dr Mani Shekhar Singh for supervising this research. The people of Kathputli Colony wholeheartedly welcomed us to their fascinating world – for which we owe them our sincerest gratitude.


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