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...

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