In The Dancer’s Voice: Performance and Womanhood in Transnational India (Duke UP, 2022) Rumya Sree Putcha theorizes how the Indian classical dancer performs the complex dynamics of transnational Indian womanhood. Putcha argues that the public persona of the Indian dancer has come to represent India in the global imagination—a representation that supports caste hierarchies and Hindu ethnonationalism, as well as white supremacist model minority narratives. Generations of Indian women have been encouraged to embody the archetype of the dancer, popularized through film cultures from the 1930s to the present. Through analyses of films, immigration and marriage laws, histories of caste and race, advertising campaigns, and her own family’s heirlooms, photographs, and memories, Putcha reveals how women’s citizenship is based on separating their voices from their bodies. In listening closely to and for the dancer’s voice, she offers a new way to understand the intersections of body, voice, performance, caste, race, gender, and nation.
Sneha Annavarapu is Assistant Professor of Urban Studies at Yale-NUS College. Lakshita Malik is a doctoral student in the department of Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her work focuses on questions of intimacies, class, gender, and beauty in South Asia.
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