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Unfinished Gestures Devadasis, Memory, and Modernity in South India

ISBN-10: 0226768104

ISBN-13: 9780226768106

Edition: 2011

Authors: Davesh Soneji

List price: $32.00
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Description:

Unfinished Gesturespresents the social and cultural history of courtesans in South India who are generally called devadasis, focusing on their encounters with colonial modernity in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Following a hundred years of vociferous social reform, including a 1947 law that criminalized their lifestyles, the women in devadasicommunities contend with severe social stigma and economic and cultural disenfranchisement. Adroitly combining ethnographic fieldwork with historical research, Davesh Soneji provides a comprehensive portrait of these marginalized women and unsettles received ideas about relations among them, the aesthetic roots of their performances, and the political efficacy of social reform in their communities. Poignantly narrating the history of these women, Soneji argues for the recognition of aesthetics and performance as a key form of subaltern self-presentation and self-consciousness. Ranging over courtly and private salon performances of music and dance by devadasis in the nineteenth century, the political mobilization of devadasiidentity in the twentieth century, and the post-reform lives of women in these communities today, Unfinished Gesturescharts the historical fissures that lie beneath cultural modernity in South India.
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Book details

List price: $32.00
Copyright year: 2011
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 1/15/2012
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 312
Size: 6.00" wide x 8.75" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.990
Language: English

Davesh Soneji is associate professor of South Asian religions at McGill University. He is coeditor of Performing Pasts: Reinventing the Arts in Modern South India and editor of Bharatanatyam: A Reader.

Acknowledgments
Introduction: On Historical, Social, and Aesthetic Borderlands
Producing Dance in Colonial Tanjore
Whatever Happened to the South Indian Nautch? Toward a Cultural History of Salon Dance in Madras
Subterfuges of "Respectable" Citizenship: Marriage and Masculinity in the Discourse of Devadasi Reform
Historical Traces and Unfinished Subjectivity: Remembering Devadasi Dance at Viralimalai
Performing Untenable Pasts: Aesthetics and Selfhood in Coastal Andhra Pradesh
Coda: Gesturing to Devadasi Pasts in Today's Chennai
Selected Documents from the Files of Muthulakshmi Reddy
The Madras Devadasis (Prevention of Dedication) Act of 1947
Notes
References
Index