No reason not to be frank: I love this book. Like the process of making ghee, which involves boiling butter until it “clarifies,” the richness of this book can be boiled down to a clear, even simple, argument that is nevertheless powerful enough to reframe the historical study of Indian dance from the colonial period to the present day. The argument is this: The anointing of certain performing arts, and those who would perform them, as “legitimate” conveyors of Indian culture simultaneously cast out others. A zone of exclusion was thereby created into which all-too-precipitously fell any arts and artists not invited to the classicizing, sanitizing, and entextualizing party. This highly generative heuristic model gives readers the opportunity to contemplate the possibility of a flip side to the well-documented historical processes of reform that created, and indeed continue to create, cultural products...
Some Rise as Others Fall: Illegitimacy in Indian Dance
Susan Seizer is an associate professor of anthropology at Indiana University. Her research and teaching interests include humor in use, stigma and its management, and performance in South Asia. Her first book, Stigmas of the Tamil Stage: An Ethnography of Special Drama Artists in South India (2005), won the prestigious A. K. Coomaraswamy Book Prize from the Association for Asian Studies in 2007. More recently, she turned an anthropological lens on the lives of stand-up comedians touring the United States, producing the ethnographic documentary film Road Comics: Big Work on Small Stages (2012). Prior to becoming an anthropologist, Seizer was a performer of dance, theater, and circus.
Susan Seizer; Some Rise as Others Fall: Illegitimacy in Indian Dance. TSQ 1 May 2015; 2 (2): 359–363. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/23289252-2867830
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