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Grant number like: FEL-272983-21

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Aparna Dharwadker
University of Wisconsin System (Madison, WI 53715-1218)

Research Programs

[Grant products]

$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2022 – 12/31/2022

"Alternative Modernities" and the Modernization of Urban Theatre in India

Research and writing leading of a book about urban theater and modernity in colonial and postcolonial India, from 1850 to the present.

This study argues that the development of urban theatre as a secular, competitive, artistic institution in colonial and postcolonial India exemplifies in uniquely complex ways the “alternative modernity” of cultural forms in the Global South. Given India’s long precolonial history of multilingual literacy and indigenous performance, the modernizing force of Anglo-European influences created aesthetic, material, and institutional conditions for theatre after 1850 that were historically unprecedented and culturally transformative, but still affected by the legacies of “tradition.” The new initiatives included the resurgence of classical Sanskrit models, print authorship, large-scale translation, anti-commercialism, and the formation as well as subversion of a “new national canon” after independence (1947-). My project thus delineates the evolving modernity of a major non-Western urban theatre field, connecting it to sociocultural shifts in India and to vital movements in world theatre.