This course introduces students to a wide variety of performing traditions from South Asia and its Diasporas viewed through the lens of social and cultural theory. Case studies cover the breadth of expressive mediums, including as music, dance, theater and ritual, as well the range of mediums of transmission, such as classical, folk, and popular. Students will learn to see these traditions as crucial sites for the construction of social identities like caste, class, gender, nation, etc. Throughout, we will ask what special opportunities performing traditions might offer for contesting, circumventing or otherwise resisting narrow and marginalizing definitions of these categories, but also how these traditions may alternatively work to preserve and re-inscribe these categories’ very limitations.
This course will enable students to:
- Identify the performative elements associated with various styles of South Asian traditions of music, dance, theater, etc.
- situate those elements within their cultural, social and political contexts;
- summarize debate on the meaning and significance of South Asian performing traditions;
- Intervene in these debates by forwarding a critical perspective of their own.