Department of Asian Studies
Department of Asian Studies

Guest Speaker: Arshiya Sethi on “Politics, Performance and Patronage: The Problematic in the National Recognition of the Dance of Assam’s Sattras"

Tue, January 30, 2018 | Meyerson Conference Room (WCH 4.118), UT Austin Campus

3:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Guest Speaker: Arshiya Sethi on “Politics, Performance and Patronage: The Problematic in the National Recognition of the Dance of Assam’s Sattras

The National recognition accorded in November 2000, to the Dance of the Sattras, the Vaishnav monasteries of Assam, I argue, was an act driven more by political expediency rather than the artistic valorization of the dance. I make my case by emplotting the political events on a time line, which leads up to the moment when India gets a new classical dance called Sattriya, on 15th November, 2000. This talk excavates the political linkages of this dance, right from pre colonial times, to now, and explores how patronage, or lack of it, influenced the artistic practices of the sattras. The recent, recognition, in the name of the nation, has impacted the form in subtle and more persuasive ways, imposing  prescriptive paradigms of a national view of aesthetics that aligns with the privileged and protective status of 'classical'. Most importantly, it has compelled the dance of the sattras into a dual existence- reflected in its monastery life with ritual valences, and a stage life, of artistic splendour but compromised essentials. The contestations and negotiations on a federal stage and between the ritualistic platform and the modern stage, define Sattriya’s more recent story.

Dr. Arshiya Sethi,  Post Doctoral Fulbright – Nehru Fellow from India, attached to the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, is an independent scholar, contributing articles, chapters and columns on the Arts. She recently contributed a major chunk of the study modules for the post graduate course on dance that the University Grants Commission, India, is offering on its online platform, E- Pathshala, for distance education. Sethi has been dance critic, curator, a popular media presenter, Advisor with Doordarshan, the National Television Broadcaster for Dance and Culture and an Arts Consultant. She is recognised as an institution builder in the arts, creating tangible and intangible equities like Cultural centres and Festivals. She chairs a Rights based young people’s foundation, established by the young, run by the young and working for youth issues, called the YP Foundation. She also runs her own Kri Foundation, that works on arts, social development issues and in the generation of knowledge. This is her second Fulbright. In her first, as an Arts Fellow she was attached to the Lincoln Centre, New York.

This presentation is conducted through the Fulbright Scholar Program’s Outreach Lecturing Fund (OLF). OLF enables Visiting Scholars to share their research interests, speak about their home country, and exchange ideas with U.S. students, faculty, and community organizations. Through these lectures, universities forge relationships with the Fulbright Scholar Program, Visiting Scholars, and the Visiting Scholar’s home and host institutions.

Sponsored by: South Asia Institute

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