Unfinished Gestures: Devadasis, Memory, and Modernity in by Davesh Soneji

By Davesh Soneji

Unfinished Gestures offers the social and cultural heritage of courtesans in South India who're commonly known as devadasis, concentrating on their encounters with colonial modernity within the 19th and early 20th centuries. Following 100 years of vociferous social reform, together with a 1947 legislations that criminalized their life, the ladies in devadasi groups cope with critical social stigma and financial and cultural disenfranchisement. Adroitly combining ethnographic fieldwork with historic examine, Davesh Soneji presents a accomplished portrait of those marginalized ladies and unsettles obtained rules approximately kin between them, the classy roots in their performances, and the political efficacy of social reform of their groups.   Poignantly narrating the heritage of those girls, Soneji argues for the popularity of aesthetics and function as a key type of subaltern self-presentation and self-consciousness. Ranging over courtly and personal salon performances of tune and dance by way of devadasis within the 19th century, the political mobilization of devadasi id within the 20th century, and the post-reform lives of girls in those groups this day, Unfinished Gestures charts the historic fissures that lie underneath cultural modernity in South India.

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Additional info for Unfinished Gestures: Devadasis, Memory, and Modernity in South India (South Asia Across the Disciplines)

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On January 12, 1676, Ven˙kojı¯ Bhosale, the half-brother of Chatrapati S´iva¯jı¯ (1627–1680), ascended the throne of Tanjore. Ven˙kojı¯ was succeeded by his sons, S´a¯hajı¯ (r. 1684–1712); S´arabhojı¯ [Serfoji] I (r. aja¯ I (r. 1728–1736), and later by Ven˙kojı¯ II (also known as Ba¯va¯ Sa¯heb, r. aja¯ I. By the time Prata¯pasim . aja¯, came to power, Tanjore found itself slipping into fiscal decline, under pressure from both the Nawab of Arcot and the East India Company, a development that has been meticulously mapped by Sanjay Subrahmanyam (2001).

To be sure, much of this book is built upon the retrieval of literary and archival material. Chapter 1, for example, represents the first critical engagement with materials related to dance in colonial Tanjore, limited as they are. However, I hope to demonstrate that analyses that foreground only scripted archival sources or “embodied practices” are, on their own, inadequate when it comes to understanding the complex history of devada¯sı¯s over the last two hundred years. In this book I demonstrate that a fruitful historicization of devada¯sı¯s can only be actualized through rigorous interdisciplinary strategies.

Ba¯ı¯ took the colonial government to task for denying her the title of heir, and for the roughly £700,000 that was attached to the Tanjore kingdom (Norton 1858, 162). She took her suit to the Supreme Court in London, arguing that women could claim succession in the absence of a male heir. Morganatic Wives: The Concubines of Kalya¯n. a Mahal and Man˙gala Vila¯sam, respectively, that housed dozens of concubines who bore the titles ba¯¯ı or amma¯l. (“respected lady”). a Mahal and was built in 1824 on the banks of the Kaveri River in Tiruvaiyaru (fig.

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