The Indian Subcontinent has been at the centre of folklore inquiry since the 19th century, yet, while much attention was paid to India by early scholars, folkloristic interest in the region waned over time until it virtually disappeared from the research agendas of scholars working in the discipline of folklore and folklife. This fortunately changed in the 1980s when a newly energized group of younger scholars, who were interested in a variety of new approaches that went beyond the textual interface, returned to folklore as an untapped resource in South Asian Studies.
This comprehensive volume further reinvigorates the field by providing fresh studies and new models both for studying the “lore” and the “life” of everyday people in the region, as well as their engagement with the world at large. By bringing Muslims, material culture, diasporic horizons, global interventions and politics to bear on South Asian folklore studies, the authors hope to stimulate more dialogue across theoretical and geographical borders to infuse the study of the Indian Subcontinent’s cultural traditions with a new sense of relevance that will be of interest not only to areal specialists but also to folklorists and anthropologists in general.
This book was originally published as a special issue of South Asian History and Culture.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: locating the study of folklore in modern South Asian studies Frank J. Korom
Part I. Historicizing Folklore
2. How stories lodge in lives Margaret A. Mills
3. The scribal life of folktales in medieval India Adheesh Sathaye
4. Nameless in history: when the imperial English become the subjects of Hindu narrative Leela Prasad
Part II. Materializing Folklore
5. Standing in cement: possibilities created by Ravan on the Chhattisgarhi Plains Joyce Burkhalter Flueckiger
6. Tools and world-making in the worship of Vishwakarma Kirin Narayan and Kenneth M. George
7. Pavitra Hindu homes: producing sacred purity in domestic diasporic settings Puja Sahney
8. Shrines, stones, and memories: the entangled storyworld of a goddess temple in Assam Ülo Valk
Part III. Politicizing Folklore
9. Criminal ‘folk’ and ‘legal’ lore: the kidnap and castrate narrative in colonial India and contemporary Chennai Shakthi Nataraj
10. Folklore, politics, and the state: Kutiyattam theatre and National/Global Heritage in India Leah K. Lowthorp
11. The amplified sacrifice: sound, technology, and participation in modern Vedic ritual Finnian M. M. Gerety
Frank J. Korom is Professor of Religion and Anthropology at Boston University, USA. He specializes in the cultures of South Asia and the diasporas derived from the region. He is the author and/or editor of ten books, most recently The Anthropology of Performance (2013).
Leah K. Lowthorp is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Folklore at the University of Oregon, USA. Her work spans the impact of global cultural policy on artist communities in South Asia, community advocacy and the arts, and the digital folklore of human reproductive and genetic technologies. She has authored several articles and book chapters on these topics.