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Title: The scent of jasmine : experiencing knowledge and emotion in cross cultural contexts of South Indian classical dance
Author: Jacobson, Joanna Rose
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2000
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My thesis uses the experience of learning bharatanatyam, classical dance-form of Tamilnadu, Southern India, to explore anthropological notions of the experience and formulation of emotion. As research unfolded, I became increasingly interested in understanding how bharatanatyam is taught, understood and experienced by those dancers who principally live and study bharatanatyam outside India. Consequently, my fieldwork emerged as multi-sited, and considers dance contexts in Edinburgh, London, and Chidambaram-a small temple town to the south of Chennai, India. My analysis is primarily a phenomenological one. Drawing on Indian aesthetic theory, which gives meticulous and analytical attention to the emotional aesthetic in the dance, I discuss the process through which emotion is taught, formulated, experienced and expressed by dancers, and the relationship between 'personal' and 'aesthetic' emotion. I suggest that the nature of bharatanatyam is implicated in a system of teaching (gurukulam) which may at times be incompatible with the 'displaced' environments in which bharatanatyam is often taught nowadays, but which must be retained in some aspect to render the dance meaningful. Thus my thesis also necessarily considers the epistemological issues which students and teachers experience in the face of particular notions of knowledge and meaning, where tensions reveal important questions for discussion. In a broader context, these are also issues that anthropologists face when confronted with systems of knowledge which challenge how meaning is formulated. Using the dance as an anthropological tool, my work addresses this in relation to discussions of bodily and embodied knowledge, and places them within issues of self and emotion. I suggest, in the case of bharatanatyam, this cannot be wholly understood within our own theoretical framework, a process highlighted by cross-cultural experiences of learning dance. Using theoretical analysis and textual play, I take the reader to a fuller understanding of the very ways in which knowledge may be created and made meaningful.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available