Performing [as] Bauls : renegotiating 'Folk' identities through the lens of performance
- My dissertation, Performing [as] Bauls: Renegotiating 'Folk' Identities Through the Lens of Performance, examines the social life of Bauls (traveling folk performers from Bengal) in the context of a rapidly globalizing Indian economy. The cultural diversity within this community destabilizes the notion of a cohesive, unified homogenous group belonging to a pure and authentic past. Therefore, my project, while disentangling differences in representation of Bauls that have usually been tied together under a unified whole (often under the rubric of 'folk' being represented in the wider realm of 'world music'), also looks at discourses of authenticity that are commonly associated with the Bauls' relationship to spatiality. Recognizing their scope beyond the musical and cultural realm, I engage in discussing the subversive and transformational potency of Bauls and their performances, within this complex web of constantly shifting identities. The dissertation is divided into four chapters, as I look at different sites that produce heterogeneous Baul identities. The first chapter introduces the rich and complex oral history of the Bauls; the second looks at the relationship between Rabindranath Tagore and the Bauls, and how this relationship establishes Bauls more as socio-political actors rather than only idealized spiritual performers; the third chapter is an ethnographic exploration of the contemporary Baul festivals, how these festivals perform 'folk'-ness and how such festivals further rupture the notion of a homogeneous Baul identity; and the final chapter continues the discussion on authenticity, appropriation, adaptation and the ongoing exchanges with transnational cosmopolitan Bauls -- I examine exchanges between the West and the East, the global and the local, while troubling such categories, and what implications or ramifications cultural appropriations may have in the discussion of 'cultural purity' and 'authenticity' or their lack thereof. Their essential identification as a wandering minstrel characterizes Bauls as cosmopolitans owing to this fundamental philosophy of travel. However, the heritage industry considers this impulse both as a benefit and a threat -- while the Bauls' travels ensure greater outreach and recognition in the international music market, their formal and structural deviation from what is culturally defined, constructed and imagined as 'folk', ironically, question their purity. While looking at different sites that have produced varied Baul identities, my dissertation simultaneously looks critically at the limits of appropriation. In re-evaluating heterogeneous Baul identities, I look at performances of cosmopolitan Baul performers such as Paban Das Baul and Parvathy Baul. To present the flip side of cultural exchange, I analyse performances and appropriations of interculturalists such as Jerzy Grotowski, Eugenio Barba, and Lee Lozowick, looking at their practice of artistic collaboration with Bauls such as Gour Khepa, Chhayarani Dasi, Ramananda Das Baul, Parvathy Baul and Sanatan Das Baul. The heterogeneity within this group provides enough breadth to accommodate dissenting and polyvocal voices, and their unique positionality also aids in challenging hegemonic divisive forces against us as humans and/or the places which we inhabit, while upholding universal humane values through the songs the Bauls sing.
|Type of resource
|electronic; electronic resource; remote
|1 online resource.
|Stanford University, Department of Theater and Performance Studies.
|Menon, Jisha, 1972-
|Menon, Jisha, 1972-
|Schultz, Anna C
|Schultz, Anna C
|Statement of responsibility
|Submitted to the Department of Theater and Performance Studies.
|Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2016.
- © 2016 by Sukanya Chakrabarti
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).
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