Performance and the Culture of Nationalism : Tracing Rhizomatic Lived Experiences of South, Central and Southeast Asia book cover
1st Edition

Performance and the Culture of Nationalism
Tracing Rhizomatic Lived Experiences of South, Central and Southeast Asia

  • Available for pre-order on June 20, 2023. Item will ship after July 11, 2023
ISBN 9780367704681
July 11, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge India
190 Pages

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Book Description

This book studies the intersection of performance and nationalism in South Asia. It traces the emergence of the culture of nationalism from the late nineteenth century through to contemporary times. Drawing on various theatrical performance texts, it looks at the ways in which performative narratives have reflected the national narrative and analyses the role performance has played in engendering nationhood. The volume discusses themes such as political martyrdom as performative nationalism, the revitalization of nationalism through new media, sanitization of physical gestures in dance, the performance of nationhood through violence in Tajiki films, as well as K-Pop and the new northeastern identity in India.


A unique contribution to the study of nationalism, this book will be useful for scholars and researchers of history, theatre and performance studies, cultural studies, postcolonial studies, modern India, Asian studies, political studies, social anthropology, and sociology.

Table of Contents

Notes on Contributors


Introduction: Performing Nation, Nationalising Performance

          I: Framing Parameters of Narrative/National/Lived Experience

          A: South Asia

  1. Framing Martyrdom as Cultural Performance in Bengali Revolutionary Nationalism
  2. Shukla Sanyal

  3. The Making of the Audience in Colonial Bengal Theatre
  4. Sunetra Mitra

  5. Indian Nationalism Embodied Through Dance
  6. Amita Dutt

  7. Shifting Hues in a City’s Culture Traced through the 88 keys of a Piano
  8. Subha Das Mollick

    B: Rhizomatic Pattern: East & Southeast Asia

  9. The Politics of Cultural Intimacies in Asia: Writing about Dramatic Performances
  10. in East and South East Asia in Twentieth Century Bengali Literary Journals

    Sarvani Gooptu

    II: Small Voices of Alterity

    A: South Asia

  11. Remembering and Encountering Death Collectively: Practice and Performance in the ‘Khawhar Hla’ (Songs for the Dead) among the Zo Christians in North Eastern India.
  12. Anup Shekhar Chakraborty

  13. Identity through Substraction: K-Pop Fans from North East India Create a New Identity of their Own

          Sabik Pandi

    8.  The Formula of the Film and the Performance into Modernity

    Susmita Dasgupta

    B: Rhizomatic Pattern: Central Asia

   9. Pains and Pangs of Post-Soviet Nationhood: Experiences of Tajikistan through the Pastiches of Celluloid Representation

    Nandini Bhattacharya

    III: Spectacularity, Mythification & Ritualistic Understanding/Countering of National Identity

    A: South Asia

   10. The Work of Art, The Mirror of Time: Theatre, Actress and the Audience in the Nineteenth Century

    Mausumi Mukhopadhyay

   11. Ram Ke Naam: Sloganeering/Othering Identity in Ramjanmabhoomi Movement

         Mimasha Pandit

    12. The Sword Unsheathed: 19th Century Bengal and A Postmodern Reading of Utpal Dutt’s Tiner Tolowar (The Tin Sword).

    Purna Chowdhury

    B: Rhizomatic Pattern: Southeast Asia

   13. Identity through Reiteration: Myth, Memory, Magic in Tess Uriza Holthe’s When the Elephants Dance

         Dipanjan Chatterjee


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Sarvani Gooptu is Professor of Asian Literary and Cultural Studies in Netaji Institute for Asian Studies, Kolkata, India. Her main areas of research are nationalism and culture in Asia. Among her publications are three books: The Actress in the Public Theatres of Calcutta (2015), The Music of Nationhood: Dwijendralal Roy of Bengal (2018) which received the Hiralal Award for best woman historian at Indian History Congress 2019, and Knowing Asia, Being Asian, Cosmopolitanism and Nationalism in Bengali periodicals 1860-1940 (2021) as well as two co-edited volumes.  She is passionate about music and regularly performs in music programmes.


Mimasha Pandit is Assistant Professor in the Department of History, Mankar College, Purba Bardhaman, West Bengal, India. Her main areas of research are the history of ideas and their performance in the wider sphere of public in colonial Bengal. Her PhD dissertation was published in 2019, Performing Nationhood: The Emotional Roots of Swadeshi Nationhood in Bengal, 1905-1912. Recently she has contributed to Itihaaser Bitarka, Bitarker Itihaas published in 2022, as well as Transcultural Humanities in South Asia edited by Waseem Anwar, Nousheen Yousuf (2022).