Prof. (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)

Prof. (Dr.) Debolina Dutta recently completed a Ph.D from Melbourne Law School. Her doctoral thesis develops a method for doing feminist jurisprudence as an ethical and located conduct of conversations, towards creating and inhabiting lawful relations. Her research is motivated by a larger concern with the responsibilities and conduct of the feminist researcher of law in an Indian post-colonial context.


Debolina has a decade-long experience of working in varied capacities as a human rights researcher, educator and activist. Her research is located at the intersections of jurisprudence, postcolonial theory, law and the humanities, sexuality studies, socio-legal studies, and feminist ethics. 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. She recently co-edited “Upendra Baxi in Our Times: Law, Life, Liminality”—a special issue of the Jindal Global Law Review celebrating the life and works of Upendra Baxi.


Debolina has received several grants and fellowships for her research, including the Emerging Scholars International Research Fellowship from the International Association for the Study of Sexuality, Culture and Society (IASSCS), and the Association for Women in Development (AWID) Seed Grant. Her academic article, “Of Sex Workers, Festivals and Rights: A Story of an Affirmative Sabotage” received the Audrey Rapoport Prize for Scholarship on Gender and Human Rights in 2017, and 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.

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.


She is presently working on 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.

Debolina’s published works are available here: