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Title: Life of myths in an Indian city : a study of situated practices
Author: Chandra Ashwath, Sandeep
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2013
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The aim of this study is to look at the “life of myths” in a specific locality in the South Indian city of Bangalore. The chosen locality of Basavanagudi (BSG) in the Southwest quarter of the old city area in Bangalore is home to innumerable temples, the oldest ones dating back to the sixteenth century, and resident properties that are more than a hundred years old. Hence most households have at least three generations living there currently. A majority of the study of myths in India until recently belonged to two broad categories; textual studies by indologists, philologists, Sanskritists and historians, and study of “local”, oral myths of select communities (tribes and rural) by folklorists and anthropologists. The former looks at classical and archaic mythology, while the latter looks at regional versions and folk traditions (some derived from classical roots). The latter follows the trend in western scholarship on myths that looks at “myths in social context” spearheaded by anthropologists like Bronislaw Malinowski and others. This study looks at regional myths in an urban locale with established religious sites situated within historical schools of thought and practice advocated in ancient classical scriptures. Hence it is an ethnographic study like the latter group but directed towards an urban community expressing “living” Hindu mythology. One of the prominent dimensions of the ‘context of myths’ in India is the set of practices that can be seen to constitute Hindu religious traditions. This study is informed by Michel de Certeau’s theory of practice to understand “everyday practice” of the residents of BSG concerning the sacred. Further, through a paradigm of place and space, this study explores the spatio-material context of myths, individual practice and interactions that suggest situated “use and transfer” of myths set against a historic tradition of inheritance and devolution. Bangalore is now at the centre of the relatively successful Indian IT industry, and is undergoing rapid social change. The locality of BSG is interesting as it lies in the old city area with a specific linguistic (Kannada) and cultural identity that dates back at least four centuries and also represents spaces and groups distanced from the rapid changes taking place elsewhere in the city. This study looks at “lived traditions” of Bangaloreans in the old city area who move within the bipolarities of the city negotiating changing lifestyles and spaces. It uses immersive fieldwork in the area of BSG, addressing issues through “ethnography at home” as I am a member of this community having been born and living in BSG.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available