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Cultural History of Modern Indian Theatre

Cultural History of Modern Indian Theatre

-  Prof  Bishnupriya Dutt

The course looks at the problematic of the historical narrative centred around the concept of the colonial theatre and tries to challenge its traditional construction within the modernist, colonial/imperialist and nationalist discourses.

The course broadly covers three areas: Modernity, particularly theatrical modernity within European theatre history and its revolutionary impacts; colonialism and colonial discourse in theatre and popular entertainment ; and writing national (Indian) theatre history.

The course will present examinations of a range of imperial and colonial events and periods, focusing on the unique nexus of theatrical performance as a site for the representation of Imperialism. Subsequently it will explore the paradigm shift from a narration of nationalism and theatre to writing national theatre history and nationalist negotiations as a problematic idea. Like the problems of writing a nationalist history in a historical context, theatre history needs to also look at the challenges posed by issues of nationalist identity and character, within the colonial and post colonial framework and perspectives used at various points of time both in dramatic texts and performance.

The actress, the woman and the issues of nationalism, gender and politics will be given special focus.


Reading list:

• Partha Chatterjee, Nationalist Thought and the Colonial World: A Derivative Discourse, in Partha Chatterjee Omnibus, OUP, Delhi,1999

• Partha Chatterjee, The Nation and its Fragments, Colonial and Post Colonial Histories, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1993

• Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, Grove Press, London, 1965

• Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, Pluto Press, London, 1968

• J. Ellen Gainor, Imperialism and Theatre, Essays on World Theatre, Drama an performance, Routledge, London and New York, 1995.

• Edward Said, Orientalism, Pantheon, New York, 1978.

• Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism; Chatto and Windus, London, 1993.

• Sumit Sarkar, Writing Social History, OUP, Delhi, 1997

• Sumit Sarkar, A Critique of Colonial India, Papyrus, Calcutta, 1985

• S.E. Wilmer (Ed.), Writing and Rewriting National Theatre Histories, University of Iowa Press, Iowa, 2004



A warm welcome to the modified and updated website of the Centre for East Asian Studies. The East Asian region has been at the forefront of several path-breaking changes since 1970s beginning with the redefining the development architecture with its State-led development model besides emerging as a major region in the global politics and a key hub of the sophisticated technologies. The Centre is one of the thirteen Centres of the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi that provides a holistic understanding of the region.

Initially, established as a Centre for Chinese and Japanese Studies, it subsequently grew to include Korean Studies as well. At present there are eight faculty members in the Centre. Several distinguished faculty who have now retired include the late Prof. Gargi Dutt, Prof. P.A.N. Murthy, Prof. G.P. Deshpande, Dr. Nranarayan Das, Prof. R.R. Krishnan and Prof. K.V. Kesavan. Besides, Dr. Madhu Bhalla served at the Centre in Chinese Studies Programme during 1994-2006. In addition, Ms. Kamlesh Jain and Dr. M. M. Kunju served the Centre as the Documentation Officers in Chinese and Japanese Studies respectively.

The academic curriculum covers both modern and contemporary facets of East Asia as each scholar specializes in an area of his/her interest in the region. The integrated course involves two semesters of classes at the M. Phil programme and a dissertation for the M. Phil and a thesis for Ph. D programme respectively. The central objective is to impart an interdisciplinary knowledge and understanding of history, foreign policy, government and politics, society and culture and political economy of the respective areas. Students can explore new and emerging themes such as East Asian regionalism, the evolving East Asian Community, the rise of China, resurgence of Japan and the prospects for reunification of the Korean peninsula. Additionally, the Centre lays great emphasis on the building of language skills. The background of scholars includes mostly from the social science disciplines; History, Political Science, Economics, Sociology, International Relations and language.

Several students of the centre have been recipients of prestigious research fellowships awarded by Japan Foundation, Mombusho (Ministry of Education, Government of Japan), Saburo Okita Memorial Fellowship, Nippon Foundation, Korea Foundation, Nehru Memorial Fellowship, and Fellowship from the Chinese and Taiwanese Governments. Besides, students from Japan receive fellowship from the Indian Council of Cultural Relations.