Dr Prarthana Purkayastha

Personal profile

I joined Royal Holloway’s Department of Drama, Theatre and Dance in September 2015. I teach on contemporary performance practice and research modules across drama, theatre and dance, with special focus on topics related to race, gender, sexuality and decoloniality. I was a Specialist Adviser on REF 2021 (sub-panel 33) and am Chair of Royal Holloway's Black and Global Majority Staff Network. 

Prior to my doctoral studies and academic career in the United Kingdom, I studied English Literature (BA and MA) and Cultural Studies in India. My academic background is interdisciplinary and my teaching and research thrives on the intersections of dance studies, performance studies, history, cultural studies and critical theory. 

My monograph Indian Modern Dance, Feminism and Transnationalism was published in the Palgrave Macmillan New World Choreographies Series in 2014. It subsequently won two of the most prestigious awards in the field: the 2015 de la Torre Bueno Prize, and the 2015 Outstanding Publication Award from the Dance Studies Association (USA). Articles and papers have appeared in international peer-reviewed journals such as Economic and Political WeeklyContemporary Theatre Review, Dance Research Journal, Theatre Research InternationalPerformance Research, Asian Theatre Journal, South Asian DiasporaSouth Asia ResearchStudies in South Asian Film and Media and CLIO:Women, Gender, History. Essays have also appeared in scholarly volumes by Bloomsbury (Companion to Dance Studies, 2019) and Routledge (Dance Matters Too, 2018; Re-Thinking Dance History, 2017). I am currently working on my second monograph, Dance Remains, funded by a British Academy/Leverhulme grant. I am also co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Indian Dance (with Anurima Banerji) forthcoming with Oxford University Press New York. 

Elected service to the field includes Executive Committee member of IFTR (2015-2019), the Board of Directors of Dance Studies Association (2018-2022) and Co-Convening the Choreography and Corporeality Working Group at IFTR (2017-2022).

I am currently supervising PhD projects AR/VR choreography and EU migration; music education in South Asia; and Malay dances/identities in Singapore; and theatre in colonial/postcolonial Sri Lanka. I am interested in supervising projects focused on performance practices (mainly in physical theatre/dance theatre), visual art practices (e.g. exhibitions, reenactments), decoloniality, embodied histories, and identity politics (e.g. race, gender, sexuality and ability).   

Personal profile

My research specialisms include: contemporary dance and dance theatre, feminist performance practices, South Asian and British Asian dance and theatre, identity and corporeality (specifically in relation to race, gender and sexuality), and embodied colonial and postcolonial histories.   

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