CSSS organises talk by Brahma Prakash

Event From Date: 
Thursday, 20 February 2020
Event End Date: 
Thursday, 20 February 2020
Event Title: 
CSSS organises talk by Brahma Prakash
Event Details: 

Centre for the Study of Social Systems

School of Social Sciences


CSSS Colloquium


Brahma Prakash

       (Assistant Professor, SAA, JNU)


Will be presenting a paper on


The Sensation of the “Common Sense’’

   Epic in the Structure of the Popular Imagination in North India   


Date & Time:  February 20, 2020 (Thursday), 11.00 am

Venue: CSSS Committee Room (No: 13), SSS-II


Abstract: In Negara: The Theatre State in Nineteenth-Century Bali, Clifford Geertz (1980) has brilliantly argued that how pre-colonial Balinese state was an organized spectacle geared towards incessant performance of theatre, ritual and spectacle. He has noted that the real power of such state lies in the ceremonial display rather than in the material power. He has not elaborate much on the condition in which such modes of organization could become possible and therefore his work is often labeled as ahistorical. But the approach has opened up a way for theatre and performance thinking through which one can understand the mobilizing power of the state and authority. It can be argued that the success of the Negara was the popular imagination in which the society and polity was constituted. At this juncture, the question one can ask is: has Bali’s journey from the pre-colonial state to post-colonial province also marked the shift in the ‘theatre’ mode of thinking? The author’s attempt in this paper is to consider artistic genre as a window into the world of the popular imagination. Can we consider genres as models of mind as it hinted by David Shulman in relation to Kuddiattam and the Vedic cosmos (2012) and Martha C. Nabassuam (1997) in relation to the literary imagination as public imagination? What could be a relationship between the artistic genre and socio-political imagination? Does a genre give us an access to enter into the popular mind—the common sense? Prakash uses epic as genre as well as an analytical tool to open up the world of the ‘common sense’ and to bring its sensation underlying the social and political mobilization.  He argues that beyond genre, epic as a mode of thinking and the models of mind works as the structure of feelings of the prevalent popular imagination in north India.


Bio: Dr. Brahma Prakash is Assistant Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He was a Visiting fellow at the CRASSH at Cambridge University, UK.  Prakash is the author of  Cultural Labour: Conceptualizing the 'Folk Performance' in India (Oxford University Press, 2019). He is working on a memoir and anthology of revolutionary Gaddar's songs and a monograph titled as The Epical Subalterns: The Battle over Memory and Imagination in North India.  His works focus on the regional performance traditions in relation to the questions of marginality, aesthetics and cultural justice.