Combining archival research with ethnographic fieldwork, Aniket De’s book The Boundary of Laughter: Popular Performances Across Borders in South Asia (Oxford UP, 2022) explores how spaces of popular performance have changed with the emergence of national borders in modern South Asia. The author traces the making of the popular theater form called Gambhira by Hindu and Muslim peasants and laborers in colonial Bengal, and explores the fate of the tradition after the Partition of the region in 1947. Drawing on a rich and hitherto unexplored archive of Gambhira songs and plays, this book provides a new approach for studying popular performances as shared spaces-that can accommodate peoples across national and religious boundaries.

Raj Balkaran is a scholar, online educator, and life coach. For information see rajbalkaran.com.

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