Mr Brahma Prakash

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The Performance Of Cultural  Labour : A Conceptual Framework for  Understanding  Indian Folk Performance

Supervisors: Prof. Helen Gilbert (Lead) and Prof. Matthew Cohen

This thesis is based on a critical performance  ethnography of four folk performances: Bhūmi-pūjā (a land worship celebration), contemporary Bidesiyā or Lauṇḍā-nāc (the theatre of migrant labourers), Reśamā-Cuharmala (a Dalit ballad) from the North Indian state of Bihar, and the performances of Gaddar and Jana Nāya Maṇḍalī from the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Existing approaches to Indian theatre and performance studies, with some exceptions, no matter how admirable and ideologically progressive, continue to be shaped by residual strains of colonialism and caste-based feudal and elite cultures. This thesis attempts to go outside of such bourgeois understandings in terms of both its subject matter and approaches. I argue that the performance of cultural labour as a conceptual framework needs to go beyond the questions of representation and counter-discourse to take account of the articulation of the labouring body and its creative and productive processes that constitute the core of the performances of cultural labour.

The project was supported by Reid Research Scholarship, Central Research Fund of University of London and Charles Wallace India Trust

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