My research project with IIAS, ‘Circus, Capital and the Global South: A History of the Present’, seeks to explore a rather recent phenomenon, the movement of trained circus performers from East African countries to South Asia, and its global socio-economic contexts. The central research questions would be the various trajectories of inequality, labour, livelihood and dignity that have set in motion this voyage and the globalised and homogenised forms of ethnicity, exhibition and race that shape this emergent itinerant performance domain. 

This exploration, I hope, would substantially contribute to understanding the Indian Ocean region as spaces of governance, mobility and experience from the perspective of the Global South. This is a complex and composite discourse interspersed with race, caste, migration, civil society, nation-state, children, animals, law, labour, body and performance, cutting across continental borders. 

Drawing upon my book- Jumbos and Jumping Devils: A Social History of Indian Circus (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2020) - the focus of the initial phase of this research was to look at how circuses and other entertainment sites in India became avenues of mobility for skilled performers like acrobats, jugglers and magicians from East Africa in the 21st century. 

As the Mellon-Social Science Research Council Transregional Scholar (SSRC) at the Centre for Indian Studies in Africa (CISA), University of the Witwatersrand (July 2017- August 2018) and a Fulbright-Nehru fellow at Yale University, I have done extensive research on the contemporary movement of African acrobats across the Indian Ocean to South Asia: I am currently writing this book. I have also done extensive fieldwork in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, South Africa, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Nepal. I organised an international conference, ‘Circus Histories and Theories’ (21-22 June 2018), at CISA with a focus on South Asia and Africa, regions that need much more research when it comes to circus studies.