Documenting Traditional and Marginalized Performance

Dr Urmimala Sarkar

This course aims to engage with the following themes:

• Arecognitionofartthatspringsfromcommunityexperiences and values requires an acquaintance with people’s stories, beliefs and ways of doing things;

• Anacknowledgement/appreciationoftraditionalart,which requires a grasp of the standards that communities use to evaluate their arts;

• The understanding of a community’s artistic traditions, which requires knowledge of the meanings they hold for the people who practice and use them;

• Theeyeofthe“other”-whetheraresearcher,afilmmaker,a publicity agent - is pre-educated to see performance from a certain bias;

• Theintentionalityoftheperformersandthereceptionbythe audience should be acknowledged in the documentation 87 process;

• Revealing true meaning of the term “cultural diversity”; and,

• Bridging the gap between views of culture as an “outside” institution or an “internal” thought process.

The process of documentation is to be a part of the course work, which will entail fieldwork training in the tradition of ethnographic documentation in social sciences.


Basic readings:

• TimothyAsch,JohnMarshall,andPeterSpier,“EthnographicFilm:Structure and Function”, Annual Reviews Anthropology, 1973, Vol 2, pp 179-187

• Matthew Reason, “Archive or Memory? The Detritus of Live Performance”, New Theatre Quarterly, 2003, Vol 19, No. 1, pp 82-89

• Michael Kirby, ed. The New Theatre: Performance Documentation, New York University Press, New York, 1974

• Peter Ian Crawford and David Turton, Film as Ethnography, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 1992

• Victor Turner, The Anthropology of Performance, PAJ, New York,1968 • L. Annapoorna, ed., Documentation of Performing Arts, Delhi, Sundeep, 2000

• Sarah Pink, Doing Visual ethnography: Images, Media and Representation in Research, Sage Publications Ltd. London, 2001