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 am 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 have appeared in international peer-reviewed journals such as Contemporary Theatre Review, Dance Research Journal, Performance 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. 

I have served as an Exceutive Committee member at IFTR (2015-2019) and am Co-Convenor of the Choreography and Corporeality Working Group at IFTR. I currently serve on the Board of Directors at Dance Studies Association.

I am currently supervising PhD projects on feminist physical theatre training; AR/VR choreography and EU migration; music education in South Asia; and Malay dances/identities in Singapore. 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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