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Politics, Performance and Patronage
Wednesday, January 17, 2018, 02:00pm - 04:00pm
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Wednesday, January 17
2 pm
Room 208, Kaufman Hall

Public lecture - "Politics, Performance and Patronage: The Problematic in the National Recognition of the Dance of Assam’s Sattras" by Arshiya Sethi

Discussant: Prof. Aparna Sharma

Abstract: This talk concerns the conferral of "classical" status on Sattriya dance by the government of India. The author argues that the national recognition accorded in November 2000 to the Dance of the Sattras, the Vaishnav monasteries of Assam, was an act driven more by political expediency rather than artistic valorization. Excavating the political linkages of this dance from precolonial times to the present, Sethi explores how patronage, or lack of it, influenced the artistic practices of the sattras. The recent recognition of the dance has impacted the form in subtle ways, imposing prescriptive paradigms of a national view of aesthetics that aligns with the privileged and protective status of the 'classical'. Most importantly, it has compelled the dance of the sattras into a dual existence- reflected in its monastery life with ritual valences, and a stage life of artistic splendour but compromised essentials. The contestations and negotiations between the regional and federal powers, and between the ritual and concert stage, define Sattriya’s more recent story.

Speaker Bio: Dr. Arshiya Sethi has an accomplished career as an independent scholar, dance critic, media presenter, cultural advisor, and arts consultant. Based in New Delhi, India, she is currently on a Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship affiliated with the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
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