Impersonations (Paperback)

The Artifice of Brahmin Masculinity in South Indian Dance

By Harshita Mruthinti Kamath

University of California Press, 9780520301665, 215pp.

Publication Date: June 25, 2019

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Description

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Impersonations: The Artifice of Brahmin Masculinity in South Indian Dance centers on an insular community of Smarta Brahmin men from the Kuchipudi village in Telugu-speaking South India who are required to don stri-vesam (woman’s guise) and impersonate female characters from Hindu religious narratives. Impersonation is not simply a gender performance circumscribed to the Kuchipudi stage, but a practice of power that enables the construction of hegemonic Brahmin masculinity in everyday village life. However, the power of the Brahmin male body in stri-vesam is highly contingent, particularly on account of the expansion of Kuchipudi in the latter half of the twentieth century from a localized village performance to a transnational Indian dance form. This book analyzes the practice of impersonation across a series of boundaries—village to urban, Brahmin to non-Brahmin, hegemonic to non-normative—to explore the artifice of Brahmin masculinity in contemporary South Indian dance.
 


About the Author

Harshita Mruthinti Kamath is Visweswara Rao and Sita Koppaka Assistant Professor in Telugu Culture, Literature and History at Emory University.