Priya Srinivasan

Unruly Spectators in Unexpected Sites”

Register to attend

View poster


The talk examines how academic thought can be put into action through performance praxis to effect change. In particular, the proposition of this talk is to examine the notion of “unruly spectator” first proposed in the 2012 publication of “Sweating Saris” and its development in praxis since this time. Can the “unruly spectator” as method be expanded in praxis to effect change in the promotion of social justice issues across several sites such as Museums, Village Squares, and Black Box Theatre spaces? Drawing from performance ethnography methodologies, practice as research and site specific intercultural and feminist performances that span the Hermitage Museum in Amsterdam, Mettumulluvadi Village in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu and Dancehouse, Abbotsford Convent and Artshouse in Melbourne, the talk poses the possibilities of unruly spectatorship as a method of critiquing power and enabling change.


Priya Srinivasan is a cultural leader who lives on the unceded lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation and whose multidisciplinary practice combines dance, performance ethnography, equity and racial justice frameworks within a deeply embedded community-engaged practice to act as a catalyst for social, cultural and political change.  She has worked across the globe to challenge Western hegemonic beliefs and practices, directing interventions in the arts through large-scale and intimate projects within festivals such as Australia Festival (India), AsiaTOPA (Australia), Jaipur Literary Festival (India), India Dans Festival Korzo (Netherlands) and has collaborated on major projects with the Hermitage Museum Amsterdam, Berlin Wall Memorial, Rockbund Art Museum Shanghai, Typografia Gallery Romania, Showroom Gallery London, Dakshina Chitra and Spaces Chennai, Adishakti Puducherry, Highways Los Angeles, DCA Darwin, Dancehouse and Bunjil Place in Melbourne. Her large span of intercultural work focuses primarily on feminist collaborations most notable of which is “Churning Waters” a feminist Indigenous Indian work which was selected to tour India for Australia Festival. She is the co-Artistic Director of Sangam: Performing Arts Platform and Festival of Diaspora which she founded in 2019 as a corrective to the lack of opportunities for artists of colour in Melbourne enabling classical, contemporary, popular and experimental works on one platform. She has directed and curated over 200 artists of colour on this platform enabling engagement with venues such as Dancehouse, Abbotsford Convent, Bunjil Place and Drum Theatre to re-map the landscape towards equity and justice. She has a PhD in Performance Studies from Northwestern University, obtained tenure and worked as an Associate Professor at University of California, Riverside in Dance, and has been a Visiting Professor at Florida State University, Leiden University and at the Alfred Deakin Institute of Citizenship and Globalization. Her book Sweating Saris: Indian Dance as Transnational Labour (2012) received the Emory Elliott Award Award, and her essay “Bodies Beneath the Smoke” was the recipient of the Gertrude Lippincott Best Essay (2009). She has been invited to present her work as a keynote at Harvard, Oxford, Northwestern, Stanford, University of California Berkeley, University of Chicago, Royal Holloway, Leiden University, Kolkata Center for Creativity, Presidency College Kolkata and Shiv Nadar University, Delhi.  


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


As we strive to constantly renew our commitments to social and racial justice as a department, we acknowledge and recognize our responsibility to the original and current caretakers of the land where UC Riverside is located: The Cahuilla, Tongva, Luiseño, and Serrano peoples (see full land acknowledgement). The life of our department and the upkeep of our facilities are maintained by the labor of so many people to whom we are grateful. Special thanks to Melanie Ramiro, Performing Arts Marketing Specialist, and Lily Chan Szeto, Department of Dance Event Specialist.

Event Details

  • Christina Armstrong
  • ZhiYe Jin

2 people are interested in this event

User Activity

No recent activity