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Title: Dancing diaspora, performing nation : Indian classical dance in multicultural London
Author: Thobani, Sitara
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis examines the performance of Indian classical dance in the contemporary 'diaspora space' (Brah 1996) represented by the city of London. My aim is to analyse whether and how performances of "national" art, assumed to represent an equally "national" culture, change when performed in transnational contexts. Drawing upon theories of postcolonialism, multiculturalism and diaspora, I begin my study with an historical analysis of the reconstructed origins of the dance in the intertwined discourses of British colonialism and Indian nationalism. Using this analysis to ground my ethnography of the present-day practice of the dance, I unearth its relation to discourses of contemporary multiculturalism and South Asian diasporic identity. I then demonstrate specific ways in which the relationship between colonial and postcolonial artistic production on the one hand and contemporary performances of national and multicultural identity on the other are visible in the current practices and approaches of diasporic and multicultural Indian classical dancers. My thesis advances the scholarship that has demonstrated the link between the construction of Indian classical dance and the Indian nationalist movement by highlighting particular ways in which historical narrative, national and religious identities, gendered ideals and racialised categories are constituted through, and help produce in turn, contemporary Indian classical dance practices in the diaspora. Locating my study in the UK while still accounting for the Indian nationalist aspects of the dance, my contribution to the scholarly literature is to analyse its performance in relation to both Indian and British national identity. My research demonstrates that Indian classical dance is co-produced by both British and Indian national discourses and their respective cultural and political imperatives, even as the dance contributes to the formation of British, Indian and South Asian diasporic politico-cultural identities.
Supervisor: Banks, Marcus; Potter, Caroline Sponsor: University of Oxford ; Canada Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Social anthropology ; Transnationalism ; Ethnic minorities and ethnicity ; Gender ; National identity ; Dramatic arts ; Recreational & performing arts ; Indian classical dance ; postcolonial ; multiculturalism ; diaspora ; nationalism ; performance