Performance studies in and from South Asia: An Interdisciplinary Symposium

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Performance studies in and from South Asia: An Interdisciplinary Symposium

(Thursday October 11, 2018, 1:45 – 5:30 pm, Madison WI)


The aim of this symposium is to facilitate a dialogue between the fields of South Asian Studies and Performance Studies, by bringing together scholars and artists who work at the intersection of these two disciplines. In so doing, it addresses two major lacunae: The under-representation of performance as a tool and an object of analysis in the study of South Asia; and the dominant Euro-American-centrism of the discourse of Performance Studies. Performance Studies’ origins as a field can be found in works such as Richard Schechner’s and Victor Turner’s, which combined anthropology and performance in order to examine cultural ritual in India. This symposium will give a new generation of scholars the chance to build on and update the relationship between South Asia and Performance Studies, insisting on a decolonial lens that honors the work emerging from South Asia as critical to investigating what Performance Studies has to offer as a relatively new discipline.


This year, we will focus on how performative analysis might generate new understandings of subjects as diverse as the neoliberal Indian city or the staging of Sanskrit epics. The performance pre-conference in 2017 hosted presentations on a range of topics, including diasporic audiobook performance, meditative practices in Sri Lanka, clubs in colonial Calcutta, and contemporary Tamil Dance championships. We look forward to continuing the discussions that started there, as well as developing the papers we receive this year for an edited volume, the first of its kind to use a Performance Studies methodology, as opposed to a theatre or dance-oriented approach, to explore the rich cultures of South Asia.


We invite submissions of abstracts for 10-minute papers that interrogate why performance matters and that demonstrate what performance can bring to the table in the study of South Asia.

Please email your 250-word abstracts to by April 30 2018.

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