Seminar:"Rethinking ‘Folk Culture and Performance’ in India" by Dr. Brahma Prakash

Seminar:"Rethinking ‘Folk Culture and Performance’ in India" by Dr. Brahma Prakash,Jawaharlal Nehru University(JNU), New Delhi


     The talk will discuss the cultural performances of the subaltern communities in Bihar in relation to the questions of culture and labour. What is artistic value of the performers who perform on different occasions such as wedding, festivals and death ceremonies? What is the nature of their labour that usually do not get recognized in the labour studies discourse? What are the stakes of the artists and performers who produce sets of relationships, meanings and affects in a caste based society? Their songs and stories create the landscape and make the spirits and objects come alive. They give name to the nameless and mark the unmarked through their narratives and movements. They may get enslaved in the cultural practices, but they have potential to change the cultural landscape. The talk is based on my recent work, Cultural Labour: Conceptualizing the ‘Folk Performance’ in India. This book examines various ways in which these meanings and values are engendered in cultural and social lives of the subaltern communities through ritual, theatre, performance, and enactment. How shall one understand a cultural field, which is full of contradictions? The talk is based on the fieldwork based study of five performances from Bihar and Telangana. They are bhuiyan puja, bidesia, dugola, the play of Reshma-Chuharmal from Bihar and the works of Gaddar and Jana Natya Mandali from Telangana.

About the speaker:

Dr. Brahma Prakash is Assistant Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi, India. He is selected as a fellow at the Centre forResearch in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Cambridge University for 2019-20. He is the author of Cultural Labour: Conceptualising the ‘Folk Performance’ in India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2019). He earned his BA from JNU, MA from National Central University, Taiwan and PhD from University of London, UK. His research intersects theatre and performance studies, ritual, festival and protest studies in relation to the questions of marginality, aesthetics and cultural justice. He teaches courses on Living Traditions of Indian Performing Arts, Regional Theatre and Performance Traditions, Non-Western Aesthetic Theories and specializes in the folk culture and performance traditions of North and Eastern parts of India. Prakash is the receipt of the Dwight Conquergood Award of the Performance Studies International (PSi) and is currently working on the imaginative practices of the subaltern communities in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. His articles appeared in Asian Theatre Journal, Theatre Research International and several edited volumes. His columns on culture and politics frequently appear in the Wire and other newspapers and platforms.

Event Date: 
Monday, 9 September 2019 - 11:00am
Class Room 130C, Department of HSS
IIT Bombay, Powai, Mumbai