Representing India’s Pasts:: Time, Culture, and the Problems of Performance Historiography

To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.


The discipline of theatre historiography in India is an inherently embattled field because, like other forms of modern history writing in India, it seeks to reconstruct methods of historical inquiry in a culture where "history," "historicity," "historical experience," "historical consciousness," and "the historical sense" have been and continue to be deeply contested concepts. Any metacritical reflection on method in Indian theatre history therefore has to begin at an unusual level of generality, by considering the theoretical, conceptual, and historicopolitical reasons for the crisis of representation that pervades the genres of historiography. To a large extent the crisis is a product of cultural difference: it registers the conflicts between intrinsic Indian and extrinsic Western ideas of time and history that were inevitable under the asymmetrical power relations of colonialism between the late eighteenth and the early twentieth centuries.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the author.

... India has no national language. 6 Hindi, presently with the largest number of speakers in this country, is the official language of the government. 7 English is used extensively in business and administration purposes and has gained the status of "subsidiary official language". ...
... In 2015, the Indian economy was the world's seventh largest by nominal GDP and third largest by purchasing power parity. 6 Following marketbased economic reforms in 1991, India became one of the fastest-growing major economies, and is considered a newly industrialized country. 29 Though agriculture is the mainstay of Indian economy, but industrialization and technological advancement (notably the information technology sector) also play a major role in current economic progress of this country. ...
Full-text available
India, officially the Republic of India is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by area, the second-most populous country (with over 1.2 billion people), and the most populous democracy in the world. A country of myriad subcultures which constitutes a unique phenomenon of ‘unity in diversity’. India is the home of people of various ethnicity, religion, culture and languages. It has its own primitive cultures. Later, in different times this country was attacked by Greek, Shak, Hun, Pathan, Mughal, British, Dutch, French etc. So there is a diverse collection of culture and ethnicity, rather a conglomeration of these. The number of 100-year-olds in India has steadily increased over the last few decades. Keeping the above background in mind, the present scenario—the prospects, expectations and problems faced by a large number of centenarians scattered in different regions of this country, has discussed in this review.
Few people would suggest that theatre historians should categorically avoid studying the theatre of lands that are conventionally spoken of as “non-Western,” but it is apparent that world theatre history is frequently taken to be problematic in one or more ways. This chapter examines why that might be so, presenting eight arguments against world theatre history. Anyone interested in the global perspective needs to understand these arguments, if only to be able to contest them. The first four arguments are practical in nature and concern the difficulties of studying theatre history on a global scale. The following four arguments are ideological, attacking the very idea of world theatre history from a variety of perspectives. While discussing and rebutting these eight arguments, the chapter offers further clarification on what world theatre history entails, and why the academic disinclination toward it is self-defeating for theatre studies.
Theatre historians habitually rely on continents and nation-states when discussing theatre’s geographical dimension. This chapter argues that for world theatre history, a more useful geographic unit is the world region, with each region defined in terms of its “complex” of interacting theatre forms: Europe is one such region, while East Asia and South Asia are among the others. For regions such as North America and Australasia, it uses Alfred W. Crosby’s concept of “Neo-Europes,” which acknowledges the regions’ association with European theatre while recognizing their independence from it. After surveying the world’s theatre regions, the chapter addresses the scalability of the regional unit. The smaller units are the subregion and the theatre center; the larger unit is the megaregion, the most notable of which encompasses the many regions of Eurasia and helps explain the surprising synchronicity of major theatrical change across that landmass for the past thousand years.
Historians of theatre face the same temptations and challenges as other historians: they negotiate assumptions (their own and those of others) about national identity and national character; they decide what events and actors to highlight--or omit--and what framework and perspective to use for telling the story. Personal biases, trends in scholarship, and sociopolitical contexts influence all histories; and theatre histories, too, are often revised to reflect changing times and interests. This significant collection examines the problems and challenges of formulating national theatre histories. The essayists included here--leading theatre scholars from all over the world, many of whom wrote essays specifically for this volume--provide an international context for national theatre histories as well as studies of individual nations. They cover a wide geographical area: Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and North America. The essays contrast large countries (India, Indonesia) with small (Ireland), newly independent (Slovenia) with established (U.S.A.), developed (Canada) with developing (Mexico, South Africa), capitalist (U.S.A.) with formerly communist (Russia), monolingual (Sweden) with multilingual (Belgium, Canada), and countries with stable historical boundaries (Sweden) with those whose borders have shifted (Germany). The essays also explore such sociopolitical issues as the polarization of language groups, the importance of religion, the invisibility of ethnic minorities, the redrawing of geographical borders, changes in ideology, and the dismantling of colonial legacies. Finally, they examine such common problems of history writing as types of evidence, periodization, canonization, styles of narrative, and definitions of key terms. Writing and Rewriting National Theatre Histories will be of special interest to students and scholars of theatre, cultural studies, and historiography.