Brahma Prakash: Current Topics in Dance Research Colloquium Series


Brahma Prakash

"The Nexus of the 'Access' and the 'Excess': Understanding the Erotic Move of the Marginalized Dancers and Singers in Northern India"

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Based on an ethnography of launda naach and arkestra performers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, this paper examines the nexus of access and the excess in which sensory circulation of dance and music are produced in the precariat body and the economy in northern India. Amidst the lack of opportunities in the region, there is something that is in excess: body is in excess, labour is in excess, libidinal energy and time are in excess combined with strong aspiration of the youths. The paper argues how the marginalized artists have been using the 'erotic' as an access in the new economy of performances. Beyond the narratives of trafficking and vulnerability, the paper intends to show that erotic as an access has created an informal infrastructure for these marginalized but aspirational performers. Despite its economic backwardness, the region has created opportunities for hundreds of such marginalized artists and performers (from ex-bar girl of Mumbai to Nachni of Bengal and migrant laborers) who aspire to become artists and stars. Using the works of Pierre Bourdieu's forms of capital (1986) and Catherine Hakim's erotic capital (2010), the paper challenges the conventional understanding of the social elites who blame these artists for corrupting the culture of the region


Dr. Brahma Prakash is an Assistant Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU, New Delhi. He was a visiting fellow at the CRASSH, Cambridge University, UK (2019-20). He is the author of Cultural Labour: Conceptualizing the ‘Folk Performance’ in India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2019). Combining art, academic and activism, his works focus on the regional theatre and performance traditions in relation to the questions of marginality, aesthetics and cultural justice. His columns on art and culture occasionally appear in Indian Cultural Forum, Wire, Scroll and other media platforms.


This talk is part of the 2021-2022 UCR Department of Dance Colloquium. For more information about the series, please see here.


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Thursday, January 20 at 12:00pm to 1:30pm

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Arts, Dance, Lectures & Presentations


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