THEATRE & NATIONAL IDENTITY IN COLONIAL INDIA: Formation of a Community Through Cultural Practice


ISBN 9789350025239
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ISBN 9789350025239


This book looks at the genealogy of the discourse of ‘Indian theatre’ where the category ‘Indian’ assumes national identiy which it self-evident. It finds the roots of such grouping in colonial India. It focuses on the transformation of something like the ‘grupuscule’ or the smallest unit of the group to the ‘nation’. In India by the late nineteenth century there was enough discussion in such grupscules often called samiti-s around certain concepts like desh, sanskriti, sabhyata, etc. and theatre/performance became a tool to mould these concepts to create something as the Bharatiya sabhyata o sanskriti or the Indian civilisation and culture which got representation not only in the Republic Day Parade in post-independent India but also in state politics around the arts.

It cites moments from Indian colonial history such as the so called coming of ‘theatre’ in India during the colonial period in Bengal and Bombay presidencies, Indian colonial history’s encounter with swadeshi through swadeshi theatre in Bengal and the cultural movement initiated by the Central Squad of Indian People’s Theatre Association. In doing so it engages with questions of experience, performance, freedom, institution, modern, nation, etc. not only at a structural-conceptual level but also as philosophical queries.

Sharmistha Saha is a faculty at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. She has been a doctoral and postdoctoral fellow at the International Research Training Group ‘Interact’, Berlin in the past.


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