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WRITING IDENTITIES: FOLKLORE AND PERFORMATIVE ARTS OF PURULIA, BENGAL

ROMA CHATTERJI

2009, xxii+125pp., biblo., index, appen.,ISBN:978-81-7305-378-8, Rs.450(HB)


This work attempts a historiographic exploration of Bengali folkloristics through some of the performative traditions of Purulia. Positioned outside the mainstream of Bengal's culture and society, Purulia has traditionally been characterized as her "primitive" alter. Folklorists have played no small part in reinforcing this image by selecting precisely those genres for analysis that best conform to this image. An unintended consequence of such selective representation is that the forms come to mirror scholarly descriptions about them over time. Thus the Chh6 dance, described as a "tribal war dance" by Ashutosh Bhattacharya, the doyen of Bengali folkloristics, has come to acquire this image losing some of its subtlety and local nuance in the process. But as a "tribal dance" it has also acquired greater visibility than some of the other dance forms in this region. Folklorists are sensitive to the changes that the introduction of new media bring to traditional forms of performance. However, they are less conscious about the changes wrought by their own writings. By describing the different representations of community and society in the writings on folk culture and in tracking some of the trajectories of their circulation in the public sphere the author shows how Purulia is re­ constituted as a folkloric region.
 

 


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