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Grant number like: FT-52644-04

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Leela Prasad
Duke University (Durham, NC 27705-4677)

Summer Stipends
Research Programs

$5,000 (approved)
$5,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2004 – 8/31/2004

A Performed Poetic: Oral Narrative and Hindu Ethics in a South Indian Town

This project involves the completion of a key chapter of my book-in-progress on oral narrative and the poetics of conduct in Sringeri, South India. This chapter studies a performance tradition called ashirvada [blessing] in which priests deliver extempore, didactic poetic speeches on appropriate conduct. A 1200-year old powerful monastery that interprets Hindu "normative" scriptures, vibrant regional traditions, and emerging right-wing Hindu ideology make Sringeri a rich site for studying moral discourse. By bringing performance studies to ethical inquiry which conventionally has centered on written texts, my ethnography of conversational and stylized oral narrative uncovers the dynamic, artistic, and gendered agency underlying the making of moral selves.